Proceedings or the 1988 Lucid Dreaming Symposium
The Multiplicity of Dreams - Harry Hunt 5
Induction of Lucid Dreams Including the Use of the Dreamlight - Stephen LaBerge 15
- Kenneth Kelzer 22
The Potential of Lucid Dreaming for Bodily Healing - Jayne Gackenbach 28
A Validation of Lucid Dreaming in School Age Children - Deborah Armstrong-
- Charles Alexander 39
A Discussion Between Charles Tart and Lucidity Letter Editor, Jayne
Gackenbach, Examining Similarities Between Dream Lucidity,
Witnessing and Self-Remembering 59
by Marie-Jean-Leoa Lecog, le Marquis d’Hervey-Saint-Denys –
C.M. den Blanken and E.J.G. Miejer 67
Notes on Conscious Cessation of Lucid Dream Activity - Thomas Lyttle 89
Communal Lucid Dreaming: An Introductory Technique - Francis Louis Szot 93
From the Beginning Thru Feast or Famine - Krisanne Gray 97
‘The Nature of Physical Reality’ by Subhash Kak - reviewed by Stanley
Green, Ripert 103
News and Notes
Contributors to Lucidity Association 107
Lucidity Association Research Award Call for Proposals 107
1989 Lucidity Association Lucid Dreaming Symposium 107
Each issue of late of Lucidity Letter has had a first. In this issue we have for the first time an historical article. Brought to us from Drs. den Blanken and Meijer, it is about St. Denys’ classic lucid dreaming book, Dreams and the Ways to Direct Them: Practical Observations. Not only is this an historical look at the “father” of contemporary western lucid dreaming, but the article also includes information never before available to English speaking audiences, or for that matter to any audience, since the book’s original publication in 1867. The original cover of the St. Denys book graces the cover of this issue of Lucidity Letter. I’d like to extent a special thanks to Drs. den Blanken and Meijer from The Netherlands for their valiant efforts in bringing these materials to the readers of Lucidity Letter.
The bulk of this issue is taken up with the proceedings of the third annual Lucid Dreaming Symposium sponsored by the Lucidity Association. It was held in June of 1988 at the University of California, Santa Cruz in conjunction with the annual meeting of the Association for the Study of Dreams. Before I outline what went on at the symposium I want to explain the editing process for these proceedings. Late last summer all symposium participants were sent unedited transcriptions of their presentations, Thus 90% of the first edit on these proceedings was done by the participants themselves. Where they declined to do this first edit either Lucidity Association chair, Harry Hunt, or myself edited the comments. The final edit on all the proceedings, and indeed on the entire issue, was done by myself. In most cases the comments from the Lucid Dreaming Symposium were not only clarified but also expanded upon by the participants. Thus these proceedings are considerably longer and more polished than what actually transpired.
Harry Hunt began this well attended and well received meeting with a summary of his theory of “The Multiplicity of Dreams”. Based on his forthcoming book by the same name, Hunt placed lucid dreaming in the context of other dream types such as archetypical dreams and nightmares. Stephen LaBerge and his assistant, Lynne Levitan, followed Hunt with presentations on the induction of lucid dreaming. These included recent data on the efficacy of LaBerge’s “Dreamlight” device. Then Sun and the Shadow author, Ken Kelzer gave a presentation entitled, “East Meets West, Buddhism Meets Christianity: The Lucid Dream as a Path for Union”. In addition to the obvious spiritual tone of his talk Kelzer also discussed ego traps when working lucidly in dreams. This was then followed by Jayne Gackenbach who gave a presentation tracing the use of mental imagery in healing to the use of dreams and especially lucid dreams to heal the body. She gave some provocative illustrations of the use of lucid dreaming in healing. “A Validation of Lucid Dreaming in School Age Children” was the next presentation by Deborah Armstrong-Hickey. She reported on her theoretically important doctoral dissertation work with lucid dreaming in children. The first content analysis of types of consciousness in sleep was then offer by Charles Alexander. In “A Conceptual and Phenomenological Analysis of Pure Consciousness During Sleep”, Alexander made conceptual distinctions between lucid dreaming, witnessing dreaming and witnessing deep sleep and reported on data comparing the content of these experiences. The symposium closed with a panel discussion entitled, “Clinical and Spiritual Implications of Lucid Dreaming”. This lively discussion engendered much audience participation as well as coverage by the national press.
These proceedings are followed by an interview with well-known Transpersonal psychologist, Charles Tart. The interview is a discussion between Tart and myself examining similarities between dream lucidity, witnessing and self-remembering. The latter has been a recent focus of Tarts work and is spoken of at length in his new book, Waking Up.
The articles section is lead by the den Blanken and Meijer article. Particularly noteworthy in this piece is the inclusion of the appendix, in English translation, from the 1867 original edition of St. Denys’ book. In it St. Denys talks of his lucid dreams under the influence of hashish. Another article from Europe follows. Hildegard Klippstein, a hypnotherapist from West Germany, introduces ‘Hypnotherapy: A Natural Method of Learning Lucid Dreaming”. With the use of clear clinical examples and drawing on the work of Erickson and Rossi, Klippstein illustrates the place of dream lucidity in a program of psychotherapy using mild trance hypnosis. In ‘Notes on Conscious Cessation of Lucid Dream Activity’ Thomas Lyttle considers that the idea that a goal of the spiritual path is the cessation of all dreams including lucid dreams. He draws on Chinese texts as well as information from the Cult of Ku in making his point. This is followed by a speculative article where Francis Louis Szot outlines a technique for having communal lucid dreams. The section closes with a case report from an apparent consciousness savant, Krisanne Gray. An extensive editor’s note precedes the Gray article explaining in part why this case, as well as the work of Armstrong-Hickey, is of theoretical importance to the field of lucid dreaming.
I’d like to close this letter from the editor with a note about the 1989 issues of Lucidity Letter. First you will see from your subscription renewal letter which is enclosed with this copy of Lucidity Letter, that the subscription price for Lucidity Letter has been increased $5 (US). This is the first increase in subscription in three years and although we regret having to make this move, the costs of continuing to produce Lucidity Letter necessitates an increase. I encourage you to continue your subscription as we have two exciting issues planned for 1989. In the June 1989 issue will be an article by Frenchman, Christian Bouchet, from his presentation at the 1987 European Symposium on Lucid Dream Research. There will also be three case studies of consciousness in “sleep” which will be accompanied by a theoretical article integrating these apparently divergent experiences. The first of these cases is the frequent out-of-body experiences of Father X which he clearly attributes to dreaming lucidly. A case of consciousness in coma will be reported on by a college student. Due to an automobile accident it was thought he would be a quadriplegic. Yet he is walking today due to, he says, the state of consciousness he attained while in coma and brought forward into waking. Finally, a case of a businessman who has experienced what appears to be a classic UFO abduction which he attributes as a lucid dream. There will also be an interview with a well known lucid dreaming figure. The December 1989 issue will contain the proceedings of the Lucid Dreaming Symposium to be held in London in July in conjunction with the annual meeting of the Association for the Study of Dreams. Hour long talks have been arranged with American Stephen LaBerge, West German Paul Tholey, and Englishwoman Susan Blackmore. I think you can see that it will be an interesting year of reading Lucidity Letter thus I encourage you to renew your subscription now.
Finally, I would like to thank my friend Barbara Simpson for her invaluable help with this issue of Lucidity Letter and Harry Hunt, Lucidity Association Chair, for his never ending patience and wisdom in keeping the momentum going in the area of lucid dreaming.
Jayne Gackenbach, Senior Editor
What I’d like to do today is to try to place lucid dreaming within the context of overall dream studies and dream research--and within the multiplicity of dreams. I want to show how a cross-comparison of the different forms or types of dreaming might give clues to the cognitive processes that may be involved in all dream formation. And in that context I want to look especially at the place of lucid dreaming, namely the special relation of them to nightmares and so-called archetypal-mythological dreams. I will try to show, both descriptively and in terms of a small research study, that these three kinds of dreams seem to be the points where the process of dreaming is maximally intensified. Such maximal intensifications may help to show fundamental dimensions of all dreaming that get crystallized in these relatively infrequent special forms.
Now the idea that dreaming is a kind of conjoined multiplicity is not new. If you look back at the nineteenth century dream phenomenologies or at dreaming as understood in the ancient Greek and Roman world, or the dreaming of tribal peoples, you find this idea that dreaming isn’t one thing. It is a kind of multiple collection of forms and sub-forms. And if you put all of what I’d loosely call the phenomenological tradition together, most of these sources -- nineteenth century, descriptive phenomenologies, ancient world, tribal societies -- roughly agree on the following forms of dreaming. You can certainly find some reference to so-called “ordinary dreaming”. Some tribal people call these “little” dreams. They seem to largely be based on reorganizations of personal memories, and they may be relatively bizarre or relatively mundane. There is also some agreement that there is something like a somatic medical form of dreaming. We will be talking more about that in Robert Smith’s symposium. Most of these sources would also want to distinguish a so-called prophetic telepathic kind of dream. If one wants to talk naturalistically, I think we could talk about these as dreamt of maximum intuitiveness, and put to one side the ultimate question of scientific reality. Certainly as a form such dreams have occurred in all peoples at all time. Then we come to the so-called “big” dreams in tribal peoples. Jung used this term as well for dreams that phenomenologically and subjectively are a point of contact with the sense of the sacred. These kinds of dreams, as I’m sure all of you know, are extremely prominent in tribal societies. They are dreams where the individual may make direct contact with the mythic archetypal beings of that society. And there is quite a bit of evidence from cultural anthropology that dreams like this are part of an ongoing cultural maintenance in that they are a source of direct renewal in mythological stones and art forms. The nineteenth century Romantic tradition of dream studies would see this so-called big or sacred dream as a point where dreaming is taken over by a kind of autonomous imaginative factor, having much less to do with memory, much more to do with an intrinsically creative imagination. And of course, this was the point of departure for Jung’s own approach to dreams.
Then again, most times and societies and peoples have talked about a nightmare form of dreaming, and here we might want to follow recent distinctions, and distinguish fantastic, bizarre nightmares of monsters and strange creatures from post-traumatic nightmares that tend to repeat, often seemingly endlessly, an actual trauma that has been suffered. We might want to separate both of these in turn from night terrors.
Finally, and very much to the point today, most of these sources identify something like a lucid-control dimension of dreaming. Whatever the hoopla about dream lucidity in the last ten or fifteen years, this is not a new phenomenon historically or cross-culturally. Aristotle and Plato mention lucid dreams. The shamanistic traditions of tribal people, by strong implication, seem to be talking about a lucid control dimension of dreaming, because the classic forms of sacred or big dreams are very often induced and guided by the trained shaman. There is an element of lucidity in reaching a kind of launching point for these uncertain mythological encounters. Similarly, if we look at the Eastern meditative traditions we find what we are now calling lucid dreaming, identified in both the Buddhist and the Hindu traditions as the natural form of meditative state available during dream consciousness, In other words, the Eastern traditions present techniques for developing what we would call lucidity or a form of lucidity as a means of meditative growth.
Well and good. Dreams are a multiplicity. But what is worth pointing out is how much this idea goes against the fundamental assumptions of both the Freudian and the experimental laboratory tradition of dream studies. Freud, as many of you will remember, was after the essence of dreaming. For Freud dreaming was primarily one thing. The Jungian James Hillman is quite eloquent in describing the way that Freud brilliantly synthesized the different multiple strands of nineteenth century descriptive dream studies. He points out that Freud took the Romantic tradition of dream studies, the idea that dreams were an expression of creative imagination, and relegated that to the dream-work proper, the mechanisms visual representation, condensation, and displacement. He also took the rational line of thought in nineteenth century dream studies, the views that dreams were delirious nonsense and froth, and said “yes” for the manifest dream, but “no” for an underlying latent structure. Finally, the idea that dreams could express somatic states was relegated to his notion of biological instincts driving the process of dream formation.
A brilliant synthesis, but the price was the exclusion of the natural varieties of the dreaming process. In fact, Freud had to take the variations of dreaming we are talking about today and redefine them as somehow not really dreaming. The most instructive example comes from his 1922 paper on telepathy in dreams. Near the end of that paper he says, well after all telepathy really has nothing to do with the essence of dreaming. He says the essence of dreaming has to rest in his processes of dream work. If we find a dream that seems to be telepathic, “…let us instead call it a telepathic experience in sleep and not a dream, because a dream without condensation, displacement, wish fulfillment (etc.) hardly deserves the name.” Similarly Freud takes dreams that are mundane and true to daily life, and which we now know from laboratory research are the average form of dream, and says, well those aren’t really dreams either. Since there is no dream work in them, let’s call them fantasies instead. Jung’s archetypal-mythological form of dreaming, which I will talk about more about later, is understood by Freud as the reappearance in the dream of fairy tale motifs from childhood.
Lucidity of course, becomes for Freud a defensive version of secondary revision. He knew about lucidity, and about St. Denys. But what we would call lucid dreaming becomes the ability of the dreamer to dismiss the dream and defend his or her self against threatening content by saying, “It’s only a dream.” You could wake up. You could ignore it. This certainly misses the subjective power of many accounts of lucid dreaming.
I think we find the same monolithic attitude to dreams within laboratory experimental tradition. Here again we find dreaming considered as a single process. The interest is predominantly in the average or norm of dreaming. Since only ten percent of dreams by some reckonings are markedly or strikingly fantastic and imaginative, these researchers feel they can ignore such dream transformations, even though it is fantastic, imaginative dreaming that has historically been the source of fascination with dreams. Similarly, one finds in the laboratory tradition what I increasingly would have to see as a curious suspicion and discomfort with respect to lucid dreaming. There are all kinds of quite intricately semantic attempts to define lucid dreaming as somehow not really dreaming. What one ends up with then from the laboratory tradition is a similarly monolithic approach, now increasingly centered on cognitive approaches and on the idea that dreaming must involve some sort of memory reorganization or memory consolidation.
Now even if it is the case, and it probably isn’t in this audience, that truly imaginative dreams are rare, and that lucidity is only open to some people as a natural form of dreaming, we know already from the clinical, neurological and psychiatric traditions that you study the exceptions, the extremes of a phenomenon in order to get at its underlying dimensions of construction. Such dimensions are hidden within the norms, hidden within the average, and get crystallized out in so-called special types. That brings us to an attempt to talk more systematically about the multiple forms of dreaming, before we get into some recent research on them. For this purpose I’m going to inflict on you my diamond of dream forms (see Figure 1), which hypothetically represents some of these dream forms in terms of systematic dimensions that would underlie all dreaming. These dimensions have nothing to do with frequency of dreaming, but more to do with underlying principles of dream generation. So, initially, we have a vertical dimension representing the vividness or intensification of dreaming. At the minimal level of vividness, on the bottom, we have dreams that are either predominantly mundane or relatively clouded and confused. These may very well be the most common form of dreaming, at least in the lab, and here perhaps we are dealing with dreams that are predominantly understandable in terms of memory models, as reorganizations of recent memories. At the maximum level of intensification, at the top of the picture, we have the dreams that I’ll talk about in much more detail in a moment and which probably reflect some sort of principle of formal or abstract self-reflection of the kind that interested Jung and Herbert Silberer and that may also be involved in the meditative traditions. Now along this vertical dimension there is a hypothetical point, a point which memory models are insufficient and we need models of creative imagination, metaphor, and intuition to make sense of the dreaming process.
In terms of the diamond structure there is also a horizontal dimension intended to represent the degree of symbolic integration or differentiation among these dream forms. The more integrated around one function, the narrower the pyramid. So ordinary dreaming, at the bottom, represents an integration and organization of the dreaming process largely in terms of the principles of semantic memory and language. Here of course we find Foulkes’ model of dreams as diffuse mnemic activation with the imposition of narrative structure. At the points of maximum differentiation, which it is not really my intention to talk about today, we find dreams that may be based on relatively separate imaginative-intuitive frames of mind: the somatic-medical form of dreams, dreams predominantly based on creative visual metaphors, and dreams based on various sorts of word play, some of it quite intricate and creative. Freud often dreamt in this form when his dreams became relatively fantastic. One would also need a panel for so-called telepathic-intuitive forms of dreaming. This would be the point where dreaming is in some sense directed towards conditions in the objective world. It might also include problem solving dreams in the context of scientific investigation.
What I really want to get at today is the top of the pyramid, representing the points where the dreaming process is maximally intensified. Here we see the dreaming process integrated predominantly in terms of a visual spatial intelligence, rather than a linguistic one. These forms would be based on metaphoric visual kinesthetic fusions. This top section of the diamond, which includes lucidity, nightmares, and archetypal dreaming, is sufficiently intensified to be transitional to waking. This is something that both lucid dream and nightmares have in common. They usually wake you up. You are right on the edge of waking. And as we’ll see, both lucid and nightmare dreams are about equally open to turning into the more archetypal form of dreaming. In fact the dreams at the top of the diamond occur in a kind of transitional or trance state of consciousness that can probably be entered about as easily from certain waking conditions as it can from the dream state. Here we are addressing an overlap between dream phenomena and so-called altered states of consciousness, where dreaming becomes a potential transpersonal process.
Each of these forms of intensification would exaggerate a fundamental dimension of dreaming that would run through, albeit usually invisibly, all dream formation. Along these lines, we can take from Alan Moffitt the suggestion that lucid dreaming is one extreme on a dimension of self- reflectiveness, also heightened in meditative traditions, and which calls attention to the general human ability to be self-conscious -- not very well and not very completely, but at least the potential to be relatively self-aware. Nightmares might highlight a dimension of affect and kinesthetic sensation that is probably usually suppressed in most dreaming. Archetypal dreams with their subjective qualities of awe and sense of the uncanny, parallels with classical mythological stories and encounters with mythological-spiritual beings, and their tendency to resist free association of the usual sort may show a visual metaphoric ability to self-present the total life context. Certainly both lucid and archetypal dreams easily develop towards experiences of geometric forms, of the sort described with psychedelic drugs, and experiences of white light similar to the mystical meditative traditions. This does imply that they have something to do with a visual-spatial form of intelligence.
I’ve added another category for the sake of completeness that we can term titanic dreams, a name adapted from Herbert Silberer for a form of dreaming, closely related to archetypal dreams. I think Jung would have called them “archetypes of transformation.” These dreams can involve vivid, powerful kinesthetic feelings of flying, falling and spinning, sex and aggression (but not just ordinary sex and aggression, but really perverse, nasty, driven forms of sexuality and aggression), and lots of forceful nature imagery--storms, seas, and caves. Roheim called this the “basic dream”. I think these are very similar to what Kohut, the psychoanalyst, called self-state dreams. They often seem to function as kinesthetic metaphors, for general existential features of one’s life. So at points of crisis one dreams of crashing to earth, or soaring over difficulties, or spinning in confusion. There may also call attention to what a number of cognitive psychologists have hypothesized as a kinesthetic core or aspect to human metaphorical thinking.
Hopefully having made some case for dreaming as a multiplicity and for certain forms as intensified dreaming, I would like to talk to you about recent research at Brock and elsewhere on these dreams of maximum intensification. Here we get more into the relation of lucidity to other dream forms. One thing that lucid dreams have in common with nightmares is that they are both transitional to waking. They also have in common a dimension of affective enhancement. Lucid dreamers often mention a peak experience- like quality to lucid dreams, a sort of rush of bliss and euphoria. But in nightmares you get a very similar kinesthetic rush of dread. I think that is quite striking in really good nightmares, the way they can sit you right up in bed with really strong bodily sensations. Another thing that lucidity and nightmare dreaming has in common, which again suggests that there is something common underlying them, is considerable sensory detail and vividness, especially kinesthetic. Jayne Gackenbach has brought that out with respect to lucid dreams, and Ernest Hartmann has mentioned it with respect to nightmares. And in fact the most common form of lucid dreaming occurs in the context of nightmares. Celia Green made this point years ago. It may be the least interesting kind of lucidity, but many, many people in the midst of stressful anxiety dreams suddenly realize, “My God, this couldn’t be happening. Oh, it’s a dream, I’ll wake up.” Similarly I would suggest that when we look carefully at Hartmann’s descriptions of intense nightmares, we find the sub-categories of lucidity and pre-lucidity according to Celia Green. So without explicit mention of it, Hartmann mentions the tendency in nightmare dreams to question whether this could really be happening (Green’s pre-lucidity), to suffer false awakenings, and there is the tendency for nightmares to show Green’s apparitional pattern. In the latter, your dream is actually in your bedroom, maybe with an ominous feeling or bizarre intrusion.
As I mentioned before, I think one can make a good case from the descriptive literature that lucidity and nightmares are directly transitional and lead in to this idea of archetypal and titanic forms of dreaming. Certainly some of the worst nightmares seem to involve pretty horrific occurrences of bodily mutilation, of the kind that you find described in some accounts of early schizophrenic onset and in shamanistic initiation dreams. Lucid dreaming seems to be transitional to so-called archetypal dreams as we have seen and is itself a form of meditative state. Certainly meditative states and lucid dreaming have in common the same heightening of a detached observational attitude--which as Charles Tart rightly said this morning is very similar to Gurdjieffian self-remembering. They also have the same quality of peak experience in the sense of Maslow, and there is the same potential in both meditative states and lucid dreaming to unfold into experiences of vivid bright light, with feelings of sacredness, geometric forms of the kind that Jung called mandala patterns, and encounters with mythic half-man, half-beast beings. I reported last year on a study we did at Brock, of the dreams of long-term meditators, in which we found that the longer they had been meditating the more likely they were to report lucid-control dreams, and that their lucid dreams were characterized by archetypal categories. In other words, there were accounts of light, geometric forms, flying, feelings of awe, and mythological beings. Jayne Gackenbach and Charles Alexander have extended these findings considerably, showing parallels in content and physiology between meditative states and lucid dreams. Anecdotally we know from people like George Gillespie and Ken Kelzer that lucid dreams do seem to have this potential to transform themselves in a Jungian direction.
Up to now each of these dream types have been researched separately, although there are some implications of experimental overlap. We know from the research of Ernest Hartmann and Kathy and Dennis Belicki that nightmare sufferers tend to test as highly imaginative and creative on various measures. We know from Hartmann’s studies of what I think turn out to be rather unusual nightmare sufferers, that these dreamers are hypersensitive to stress. Lucid dream research, almost entirely based on the work of Jayne Gackenbach, has shown lucid dreamers to be similarly highly imaginative and creative, and to have unusually developed spatial skills: abilities in things like embedded figures and block designs, and the mental rotation tests that torture so many people in college admission tests. Lucid dreamers also tend to have a highly developed sense of physical balance. Jayne Gackenbach has shown that lucid dreamers are quite responsive in terms of the vestibular system, and that they can walk a balance beam better than people who don’t lucid dream. Now that may sound very strange, but it is quite similar to research on mystical experience. Paul Swartz at the University of Alberta, using the Hood questionnaire, measuring the tendency of people to have spontaneous mystical type experiences when awake, showed that the higher you scored on the Hood test, the better visual-spatial coordination you had. His measure was pin the tail on the donkey. We replicated that at Brock. The least research has been done on archetypal dreaming, although Kluger developed a scale to measure it and Cann and Donderi have used it to show that people who dream in this archetypal style are highly intuitive and low on neurotic tendencies.
All this brings us to our own recent study at Brock, done with Aurelia Spadafora. This was an experimental attempt, the first as far as we know, to compare lucid dreamers, archetypical-mythological dreamers and fantastic nightmare dreamers. On the basis of all the information I’ve given, we hypothesized that lucid dreamers, archetypal dreamers, and nightmare dreamers would be highly imaginative. The lucid and archetypal people would have good spatial and balance abilities, and be high on the Hood scale of mystical experience. The nightmare people would correspondingly have poor balance, poor spatial abilities, and high stress. We advertised in school and town newspapers for people who dream in a lucid style, people who have fantastic nightmares as opposed to post-traumatic night terrors, and people who dream archetypally, which we defined for them much in the way I’ve done today. Since all of these subjects had very high levels of dream recall, we developed a control group similarly high on recall but as low as possible on the special types.
We started with a hundred subjects. Archetypal dreams in this first hundred were the most infrequent, with a mean of 8 per year. Lucid dreams had a mean of 36 per year and fantastic nightmares had a mean of 24 per year so we did not do too badly in getting subjects with unusual dreams. All three of these estimates were significantly correlated with recall and with each other. Thus one can conclude that they are common or overlapping expressions of an intensification of the dreaming process, as also indexed by their high degree of recall. Yet they were different enough to permit some differential testing, and this is what I will describe to you today. We went after relatively pure groups. This was hard to do because we wanted people who were well above the mean on nightmares, but at or below the mean on lucid and archetypal. We ended up with 10 nightmare sufferers in the pure nightmare group, 11 lucid dreamers, only 4 archetypal dreamers, and 5 who were mixed dreamers. The latter were unusual people. They were all respondents to the newspaper ad. They were almost twice the mean on nightmares of the pure nightmare group, almost twice the mean on the archetypal, and very high on lucid. They also had unusually high dream recall. Their average was 10 dreams a week. The rest of the sample was 5 dreams a week. We now had three pure groups, the mixed group, and a control group of 11. Apart from the mixed group they were all matched on dream recall, so dream recall can’t be an explanatory variable (excepting of course the mixed group).
We then set about looking at group differences. (I want to emphasize here that this is an exploratory study, and I will be reporting some individual and group tests where overall group differences failed to reach significance - although most had F’s less than .10. At least I would argue that this study is suggestive of a way that dream research should go in the future.) With respect then to our measure of overall imagination, we used combined Z-scores from tests of imaginative absorption, thin boundaries, creative pursuits, and physionomic cues (see Table I). What we found was that the archetypal dreamers--even though there were only 4 of them--were significantly greater than both the pure nightmare and the control group. Now this is somewhat contradictory to Hartmann’s findings that nightmare sufferers are highly imaginative, but interestingly enough the mixed group-- which I’ll try to show is probably very much like Hartmann’s intense nightmare group--was also significantly greater than both the nightmare and the control group on the imagination measure. We then looked at the Hood questionnaire for spontaneous mystical experience, which by the way correlated with all our measures of imaginativeness quite strongly. It probably measures, within an imaginative capacity, the ability to let go and undergo a positive alteration of consciousness. Here what we find again is that the archetypal group is significantly greater than the nightmare. The lucid is also significantly greater than the nightmare, while here the mixed group is on a level similar to the nightmare group. In other words the mixed group may be highly imaginative but they do not have positive experiences when they let go. Next we can consider the spatial ability measure. This was a combination of scores on the block designs and mental rotations. The lucid group was the highest and the nightmare the lowest of the pure groups. Only when the mixed group is added do we get significant differences, in that the lucid group was now significantly better on the spatial measure than the mixed group.
The balance measures were more complex. First of all we looked at the balance beam, and there we found, to our surprise, that the archetypal group was significantly greater than the lucid group, which is basically the lowest in balance. The archetypal group was also significantly greater than both the nightmare and the controls as well. Now that doesn’t fit with some of Jayne Gackenbach’s findings. On the other hand, we had another measure of balance, body sway with eyes closed and feet one behind the other. We took sway primarily as a measure of vestibular responsiveness, which I think makes some sense since we didn’t have anybody who had enough vestibular problems so that they actually fell, which would indeed have been non-adaptive. But within the normal range if you sway your vestibular system is responding, whereas lack of any sway may indicate nonreponsiveness. Here more as predicted, we found the archetypal group swaying the most, the lucid group the next, and the nightmare least. The lucid and archetypal group were significantly greater than the nightmare group on the t-tests. The mixed group was generally in the middle in balance.
The least successful group comparisons were with the stress measures. What we found was that the nightmare group was the highest, the archetypal, control, and lucid were lower, but only the mixed group produced statistical significance, being significantly greater than the control group.
This brings me to the brief question, why were the nightmare people low in imagination, when previous studies have found them to be high? It could be a subject selection factor, in that if we compared them with average dreamers who don’t recall that much a week, they might have been comparatively high on imagination. On the other hand their Hood scores were quite low. I would suggest that we may have some indication of a defensive self- inhibition of imagination in the pure nightmare group. In other words, it is possible that what nightmare research has really been measuring is the extent to which nightmare sufferers also have lucid and archetypal dreams. Hartmann, in fact, went to the extreme of the nightmare phenomenon, and in doing so selected people who are extremely artistic, sensitive, and imaginative. It is likely that they had lucid (or pre-lucid) and archetypal dreams, as implied by his own accounts. In that case they would be like our mixed group: very imaginative, but with negative experiences when they let go, especially poor spatial abilities, and lots of stress. In other words, these are people, in contrast to the pure lucid and archetypal dreamers, who are in some sense victimized by their imaginations. It looks as though if you intensify the dreaming process and if you have poor spatial abilities, what you are in for is a disorganizing negative experience rather like a bad trip with LSD and perhaps on the same model.
A similar picture emerges with the correlations from the entire special sample of 41 (see Table 2). What we find is imaginative measures correlating with stress, the Hood, ordinary dream bizarreness scores from home diaries, and archetypal dream categories. The nightmare and the lucid subject estimates were not in fact significantly correlated with imagination, only the archetypal estimates were. I think the implication is that future research on any one of these dream types had better ask about the others, since they may have hitherto been confounded. There is a negative relation between nightmare estimates and both spatial abilities and the Hood, again reflecting the individual group comparisons. Finally subjects with good balance tended to have the most imaginatively transformed or bizarre dreams. An implication, consistent with Jayne Gackenbach’s work as well, is that good balance allows dreaming to develop. Perhaps you can tolerate better the different places the dream may take you if you have good spatial balance.
With respect to some conclusions, each of the forms I was talking about today--the archetypal, the lucid and the nightmare--can be defined as positions on relatively independent dimensions. The archetypal and the lucid are closest. They are high on imaginativeness, spontaneous mystical experience and spatial abilities. It is less clear with respect to balance, but certainly the archetypal had very good balance, and the lucid on one measure. Nightmare sufferers on the other hand were low on imagination, spatial abilities and balance. Again, intensified dreaming in the context of poor balance, makes for trouble. An implication might be tai chi as a potential therapy for nightmare sufferers!
Intensified dreaming comes in two forms: one relatively organized and the other more disorganized. Vivid imagination combined with spatial abilities and balance allows the dream to unfold towards its archetypical, big form - the most imaginatively transformed development of dreaming and its point of maximum cultural impact as witnessed in the shamanistic and meditative traditions. On the other hand, poor balance may be part of the organismic “mechanism” of repression, self-inhibiting imagination in the form of low levels of dream bizarreness. Intensified dreaming in such a context would be associated with panic.
What is the place of lucidity in all this? In our findings it was midway between the archetypal and the nightmare measures. On the basis of this work, and on previous work that both Jayne Gackenbach and I have done, lucidity offers a kind of stable access to the archetypal-transpersonal form of dreaming. The true significance of lucidity, its importance in terms of dream research, is as a gateway to this culturally significant form of dreaming. Here dream research approaches a natural transpersonal growth process, overlapping with the meditative traditions and based on a visual-kinesthetic imaginative capacity. This requires of cognitive psychology an account of creative imagination that goes well beyond its current preoccupation with memory and language.
JAYNE GACKENBACH: Let me clarify our findings with gross motor balance of lucid dreamers. Stabilometer performance was powerful in favoring lucid dreamers while the balance beam. Stabilometer performance seems to be essentially the same as your body sway measure.
I would like to talk in a somewhat broader context today than just on the use of the DreamLight. I will give you a sense of why I have been working on developing this device and my view of the induction of lucid dreams in general. In case there is anyone present who doesn’t know what a lucid dream is — it is a dream in which you know you are dreaming while it is happening.
Monthly rate of lucid dreaming reported by the subject during the 3-year experimental period. During the first 16 months (I), lucid dreams were induced by autosuggestion. The increased frequency of lucid dreams in the months labeled A and B was associated with enhanced motivation, as discussed in the text. During the next period (II), the subject developed the mnemonic method for induction of lucid dreams (MILD). By the last 2 months of this phase (C), he was able to induce lucid dreams at will. For the next 4 months (III), he discontinued regular practice of MILD; the resulting extinction is clearly evident. During the last 2 months (IV), the subject used MILD to produce lucid dreams for polysomnographic recordings.
I started my own journey into the field of lucid dreaming about ten years ago when I was at Stanford University and needed a topic for my Ph.D. dissertation. I settled on lucid dreaming, a fascinating phenomenon that had not, as far as I knew, been researched yet. I had had a few experiences with lucid dreaming, enough to give me a great deal of personal interest in it. I began some experiments with inducing lucid dreams in myself and was motivated to have lucid dreams in the laboratory so I could study them for my dissertation.
When I started out trying to induce lucid dreams, all I had to go on was the idea from Patty Garfield’s abstracts and books that she had been able to increase her frequency of lucid dreaming by autosuggestion, just by telling herself “I’m going to have a lucid dream tonight.” I found that when I simply reminded myself before going to sleep, “I want to have a lucid dream tonight,” I would have lucid dreams approximately once a week. However, notice on this chart of my lucid dream frequency during the three years of my dissertation project, at Point A I reached ten lucid dreams per month, a considerable leap from the periods around it.
The explanation for this sudden improvement is that that was the time when I was writing my dissertation proposal, in which I was claiming that I was going to be able to learn to have lucid dreams for this study. In other words I was extremely motivated to have lucid dreams, and it made a big difference in my success. But, as soon as I finished the proposal, my lucid dream frequency dropped back down to where it had been, because of the difficulty of maintaining such a high level of motivation. At Point B on the chart, where you see a similar sudden increase in the number of lucid dreams I was having, I was in the laboratory at Stanford starting my dissertation research. Again, my motivation soared.
But, you notice, in addition to the two outstanding high points due to motivational factors, there is a general increase in my lucid dreaming rate as time passes. It looks like I was somehow learning how to do it, and at about this point marked Part Two I began to realize what it was I was doing when I was doing it right. I had begun with the idea of using a sort of autosuggestion: “Tonight I will have a lucid dream.” However, I had no idea of how I was going to do it, and so it was difficult to convince myself that I really was going to have a lucid dream. When I discovered what I was doing when I succeeded, it turned out to be a very simple thing. It was that I was setting the intention of remembering to do something later. Once I got the mental set right, my lucid dreaming rate starting increasing more, and I developed the method I call Mnemonic Induction of Lucid Dreams, or MILD.
MILD involves using visualization to see yourself in a dream recognizing that you are dreaming — to help remind yourself to do something, i.e. realize you are dreaming, in your next dream period. The procedure is to wake up from a dream and using that same dream you just awakened from, visualize yourself back in the dream, see yourself becoming lucid, and tell yourself, “Next time I’m dreaming, I want to recognize I’m dreaming.” I found that with practice when I used this technique I was able to have lucid dreams on any night I wished.
Others have had similar results with related methods, showing that once your mental set is correct, becoming lucid in dreams is not a difficult process. However, it is no trivial condition: “Once your mental set is correct…” The method we are using to attain that mental set is remembering to do something in the future. If you think of this in terms of the waking state, how do you remember to do things in the future? You write yourself notes, or leave yourself reminders. If you want to take something with you when you are going out the door, you put it by the door so that it is there to remind you when you need to remember it. The problem is, how can we remind people at the time they need to be reminded, namely, while they are dreaming, that they want to recognize that they are dreaming? How do we get a cue into a dream?
One example of what we have used is goggles with flashing red lights worn by the sleeper. When the person is in a REM period, dreaming, we apply this flashing light, and if the light is incorporated into the dream and if the dreamer recognizes the light correctly, he will realize that he is dreaming. The light can be incorporated into the dream in different ways. This slide shows the polygraph record from a case of lucid dream induction by this method — this is actually Daryl Hewitt recorded in our laboratory. The bottom channel shows the light stimulus being turned on, and in the eye channel you see his lucidity signal, after which he dreams on lucidly.
Now, I want to show you the device we have been using for home studies (called the DreamLight) and report our results with it so far. It consists of a mask you wear over your eyes while you are sleeping, which picks up eye movements with an infrared eye-movement detection device, and when enough eye movements occur that the computer in the box believes’ you are in REM sleep, the lights in the mask flash. Meanwhile, back in your dream the light may appear somehow, perhaps in a transformed way — if you recognize it you will realize you are dreaming. Or, if your mind is not prepared... for example, I might think there was something wrong with the projector here, and say, “Turn that thing off, please!” If my mind is prepared, and I’m really ready to remember it, then I’ll say, “Ah hah!” That is the DreamLight. That means I’m dreaming right now.” And then I can remember, “Oh, yes, I went to sleep wearing the DreamLight.”
We did a study with the DreamLight and 49 subjects who attended eight weekly group meetings. During the course of the group, they had the opportunity to use the DreamLight several times. The average number of nights the DreamLight was used per subject was six nights, and each subject also contributed an average of thirty nights of data from nights when they did not use the DreamLight. On those non-DreamLight nights they may have been using other induction techniques, such as MILD or a modification of the reality testing procedure recommended by Paul Tholey.
This slide [Figure 2] shows the frequencies of lucid dreams per night per subject during the study. You can see that lucid dreams are more frequent on nights when the subjects used the DreamLight, even though there is a smaller sample of DreamLight nights than non-DreamLight nights. In fact, if you take the average rate of lucid dreaming on non-DreamLight nights, and multiply that expected rate by the total number of nights the DreamLight was used, that gives you the expectation of how many lucid dreams subjects would have had on the same number of nights using the DreamLight — if it had no effect. But, you can see a striking difference between this expected number of lucid dreams and the actual number observed for the DreamLight nights. Using the expected baseline lucid dreaming rate, only 2 of the 49 subjects would have had lucid dreams on DreamLight nights, rather than the observed 19.
There were three techniques that we were using in this study: the DreamLight, reality testing and MILD. For each subject we did a correlation between the number of times that they had lucid dreams and their use of the DreamLight or not (this was a dichotomous variable) and then the number of times they tested reality on the day before, or the number of times they did MILD during the night. Then we averaged the correlations coefficients for however many subjects there were in each comparison. Not everybody did all the techniques, so there were fewer than 49 correlation coefficients. Only subjects who had had at least one lucid dream could be used, so we have N’s of 34 to 36.
The averages of the correlation coefficients across subjects are shown on this slide [Table I]. The T-tests test the significance of the difference of each average correlation coefficient from zero. If there is no relationship for a given technique between the technique and lucid dream frequency, half the subjects would have a positive correlation, and half would have negative, and the average correlation would be nonsignificant.
The DreamLight shows a small, but significant correlation coefficient of about +.10 — it is statistically significant, and a majority of subjects had positive correlations between DreamLight use and lucid dream success. In the last column, the Z-score, takes into account the fact that people contributed different numbers of nights of data — somebody who used the DreamLight fifteen nights, which was the maximum number, had more data for the DreamLight nights than somebody who used it on only two nights. We wanted to weigh the data according to how many nights of data there were for each subject, so we took the p values (the probability) for each of the correlation coefficients, converted them to standard scores, and then used a standard statistical method to determine the overall probability of the occurrence of that collection of standard scores. Again, we have a significant relationship shown for use of the DreamLight and lucid dream frequency.
Now, let’s look at the results for reality testing. This is a modification of Tholey’s variant of this idea, wherein one asks, “How do I know I’m not dreaming right now?” throughout the day, and then does a visualization while repeating to oneself, “All right, I think I’m not dreaming right now, but later on when I am dreaming, I’m going to remember to do this [a reality test]”. It is a bit of a combination between reality testing and a mnemonic intention exercise. Although there were two or three subjects who had a significant positive relationship between lucid dream success and frequency of reality testing, overall the group showed no relationship. About half the group had positive correlations and half negative, with no statistical significance. So, we found no support for the usefulness of reality testing for inducing lucid dreams in this particular group.
MILD, on the other hand, showed the largest overall effect — the largest group correlation was between lucid dream frequency and the practice of MILD (r = .12, p < .001). This success may have to do with the fact that people had more of a chance to work with MILD than with the DreamLight, but, nevertheless, there was a significant relationship both for the probabilities and for the actual correlation coefficients. Thus, we found clear evidence that use of the DreamLight and use of MILD were both effective in increasing the rate of lucid dreaming.
Having looked at the rate of lucid dreaming for four conditions, with DreamLight, reality testing, MILD, and no technique, we know that the DreamLight was effective and so was MILD. How did people do on nights without the DreamLight or MILD? This baseline lucid dreaming rate was 3.7%, meaning that on those nights, if we had 100 people in the group, we would expect them to have a total of about 4 lucid dreams among them. In the condition in which the DreamLight was used without mental preparation with MILD, the rate went up to 5.5%. Using MILD without the DreamLight produced a rate of 13%, and the combination of MILD with the DreamLight resulted in the highest rate of 20%. Our interpretation of this is that using the DreamLight without doing MILD mean using the DreamLight with insufficient mental preparation, so that when the light flashes, even if you see it, you won’t know what it means. It will be just a meaningless bit of dream content that you need to explain away.
Thus it is clear that, in this case, a reminder is not going to help you unless you are ready to remember it already. There is a saying, “A word to the wise will suffice, but for a fool a thousand explanations will never serve.” Of course, we can be either wise or foolish depending on our preparation and what we bring to any task. Some people have had the impression that the DreamLight is some sort of machine that will force people to have lucid dreams, and some have expressed the concern, “Well, what if you are not really ready to have lucid dreams, then what will happen?” The answer is, very probably nothing. You’ll have a dream in which you dream about the room light flashing, or something else you can explain away, but you won’t become lucid unless your mind is prepared. Whether or not there is a developmental aspect — some psychological development that has to occur before you can have lucid dreams, I really don’t know. We have no evidence bearing on that question.
We do know that the mental concentration you put into it on the night before—especially the night before and perhaps the day before as well — you try to have a lucid dream is crucially important. If you are trying to remember to do something in the dream state, then, obviously, preparing your mind right before bed and during the night each time you wake up during the night will be by far the most effective. It may not make any difference if right now, for example, you all very strongly prepare your minds, “I’m going to have a lucid dream tonight. I’m going to remember to do this,” because if tonight when you go to bed you don’t think about it, this preparation will be diluted by the day’s subsequent experiences, and will have little, if any, effect. Thus, in order to maximize our results with the DreamLight lucid dream induction tool, we will be focusing on the preparation immediately before bed, and during the night.
I would now like my associate, Lynne Levitan, to describe a bit of the phenomenology of what happens with the light incorporations. The study I just described was one in which people used the DreamLight for one to fifteen nights, but we have some people who have used the DreamLight in various incarnations over the past several years, and had a great deal of success with it. I’d like you to get a bit of an impression of what this is like.
I’ve used the DreamLight about 130 times in the last three years, in several different versions, of course, since we started working on it. You can see by this slide [Figure 3] that I clearly have more success at having lucid dreams when I’m using the DreamLight. By the way, these results include no information on mental preparation, and I think the general assumption we can have regarding this data set is that I wasn’t really paying much attention to mental preparation.
I have data here for 101 nights I used the DreamLight. On 59 of the nights I had incorporations. On 40 of the nights I had lucid dreams, so we can consider that on 19 of those nights I could have had a lucid dream, but I was stupid,
Table 2 shows some categories that we came up with to classify the various ways in which the light could be incorporated. The first category here with the greatest percentage is “light emanating from a dream object.” This red light that you saw here actually comes into the dream and becomes part of the dream. If you don’t have any idea that you are wearing the DreamLight, it just part of the dream. It is interesting to look at the various ways that the light can incorporate. A classic one is the sun — you are outside and the sun gets in your eyes. It is very bright. Also, it can be as reflections of the sun. The main thing about the incorporation is that it is very bright. You see a bright reflection from a mirror, or I even saw a bright reflection from a photograph of the sun in my eyes — in some cases I thought it was just the sun in my eyes, but usually I realized, “Oh, that’s the DreamLight,” probably because it was so bright. A case in which I failed was: I was at a concert, sitting in a stadium on the bleachers, and it seems there was an arc lamp sitting right in front of me flashing into the audience. Now I don’t know why anyone would put an arc lamp facing up into the audience, but I never figured out it was the DreamLight until I awoke. One theme I’ve heard others report, too — the TV malfunctions and flashes in your eyes. In this case I have here there was a Star Trek episode on television, and the enemies had devised this exciting new weapon that produced something I called the “retinal flash.” Another common case for me in this category is the popping of flashbulbs — someone is taking pictures. And, I’ve seen slide projectors projected directly in my eyes.
The second most common category, light superimposed on the scene without a dream source, is pretty mundane. You simply see light in your eyes, and it is pretty obvious that it is the DreamLight. Interestingly, though, it is not always red. I’ve seen it as white or green. One time I saw it as four red dots hanging in front of my left eye — the interesting thing about that was that the mask I was wearing at the time only had two LEDs, rather than the usual four, so clearly my mind was still constructing away.
The third category is unaltered incorporations of the light stimulus. We don’t have any statistics on this, but my guess would be that this is the easiest type to recognize, because it looks exactly like you are wearing the mask — except you are walking around you suddenly you see this stimulus hanging in front of your face. On the other hand, strange things happen like you see the light and take off the mask, in your dream, and you say, “Oh no, I’m not asleep, but it’s still flashing!”
The fourth category is interesting — you see the light as psychedelic or geometric patterns. I’ve seen absolutely glorious brilliant patterns in concentric circles, and just fascinating geometric shapes covering the entire field of vision. I’ve seen traffic lights and flash bulbs turn into psychedelic displays.
The final category is alterations of the ambient light level in the dream. I had an interesting case of this. I was walking down a street on a very dark night when suddenly it was as bright as day and I was floating about a hundred feet above the street. I said, “Well, I must be dreaming!” Mother curious case of this was that I was talking to Fariba [Bogzaran] in a room when she said, “I think we need some more light in here,” and suddenly the room was filled with light. Now, how she did that, I have no idea!
Thank you, Lynne. Unfortunately, due the time limitations we have to be moving on, but I think we have time for one question here.
When I think about lucid dreaming I think about a vast universe, so vast that everything we say here today has to be qualified. In particular, I think about Christopher Columbus and regard his epic voyage as a perfect metaphor for what we are attempting to do in exploring the lucid dream state. When Columbus discovered a new world (new to Europeans) there were many ramifications of his discovery. I have always been intrigued by the maps that appear in our history books, maps of the new world that originated in the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries, attempts on the part of those early cartographers to begin to describe and delineate what the explorers were discovering. Some of those early maps had some degree of accuracy and some of them were intriguingly misshapen. I think it is important for us to keep this metaphor in mind as we approach the vast spectrum of lucid dreaming which we are attempting to explore.
I would like to discuss one end of this vast spectrum today, the end that constitutes one of my primary areas of interest, namely the lucid dream as mystical experience. I have for some time been intrigued by a book written by Evans-Wentz, Tibetan Yoga and Secret Doctrines. Some of you may know about this book. It contains an interesting section, fifteen or twenty pages in length, on the Yoga of the Dream State, the oldest known treatise that we have from any culture on the subject of lucid dreaming. While we have numerous brief and scattered references to lucid dreaming from other sources, Evans-Wentz book is the first text from any culture that attempts to talk about dream lucidity in length and in depth. I began re-reading some of his treatise, written very succinctly, just this morning, and I found that I really felt that I understood many portions of the text, and that they made a lot of sense to me. I remembered that when I had read this same material ten years ago it felt very strange, dull and foreign. Something happens to a person in his or her capacity to understand esoteric ideas. After we’ve had certain types of experiences we are better able to understand esoteric writings that once seemed totally foreign.
I was once a student for the Roman Catholic priesthood, and I spent eleven years of my life in the seminary system, a very rational analytic educational system. I am still very interested in how personal experiences of the “Light” are mentioned in the Bible, though mentioned very sparingly. One of my favorite quotations is from Ephesians, Chapter 5:14. “Awake oh sleeper, and arise from the dead, and the Christ will give you light.” “The Christ” was not Jesus’ last name as we often interpret it today, but it was a Greek term meaning the anointed one, someone specially chosen by God to play a prophetic role in Hebrew culture. This biblical passage and a few others indicate that in the Western world we do have a veiled tradition, a hidden tradition of references to personal light and personal encounter with the light. But now in the twentieth century many of us are trying to bring that tradition out into the open and make it more available. Let me illustrate by recounting a recent dream from a lady in one of my therapy groups.
Suzanne* is an experienced lucid dreamer. She had been working on the issue of adjusting herself to the fact that her husband was about to retire about which she had a lot of mixed feelings. She is in her late fifties. Her husband is just turning sixty, and works as a top level executive for a company that allows him and his family to travel around the world in the company jet and attend fabulous parties in exotic places several times a year. Suzanne was very attached to these parties. She really enjoyed them, and while she was looking forward to her husband’s retirement she was also already feeling incipient sadness and anticipatory grief over her forthcoming loss. This was her dream.
Suzanne is floating down a river to the ocean. As she reaches the ocean she realizes she is dreaming, and becomes lucid. As she swims out into the ocean she sees gigantic male arm and hand reaching out to her, and someone calling and beckoning to her. It speaks to her silently and symbolically saying, “Come and help me.” She feels the power of the gargantuan hand and is determined not to get caught in its grip, so she swims around it repeatedly sending it a vibration of love and peace until finally the hand and arm shrink down to a manageable size. Now she takes the hand in her hand and goes down with it into the ocean. They go down, down and she comes to the bottom of the sea and she sees a nude male body lying on the ocean floor and approaches it. The man looks similar to her husband, though also dissimilar in certain ways. She feels a great deal of compassion for him. She approaches him and tries to send him a message of consolation. She makes a sexual overture but the man does not respond. Now she approaches his body from different sides and continues to make sexual advances while receiving no response, until at the last she decides it is just time to move on. She peacefully floats up to the surface of the ocean and as the dream ends she feels very good.
We worked with this dream in she group using a Gestalt therapy process. Suzanne lay down on the floor of the room, acted out the role of the man, then acted her role, experiencing the dream symbols from all of their different aspects. She played with the fact that she was lucid in the dream while the man was not, and that she was calling him to awaken but he did not. That night when her husband came home from work Suzanne had a most unusual experience.
Suzanne’s husband is a very rational, linear thinking type of man who generally thinks that dream work is a curiosity at best. As he entered the kitchen he said something to her that was very uncharacteristic: “Would you mind just hugging me?” She quickly complied. Then he suddenly lay down on the floor of the kitchen, and reaching up with one arm, said: “Would you just mind lying here on the floor with me and putting your arms around me?” Again she complied. But now her mind was racing with all of the power of this event, which she recognized at once as both psychic and synchronistic. She comforted him physically for awhile, and when he said, “Thank you, that’s fine,” they both stood up. Then she said: “I have to tell you this dream I had three days ago.” She told him her dream and her experience in the group and he was amazed.
I am not sure where all of these things, these “psychic events,” are leading us, but as we become more lucid, they seem to be leading us into a new realm of living, similar to the “new world” that Columbus discovered. Our initial task perhaps, is to allow ourselves to become more comfortable with, more familiar with and more knowledgeable of psychic phenomena, and the transformative experiences that burst our old models of the universe, Secondly, we need to allow ourselves to become conscious of these types of experiences on a more frequent basis. Thirdly, after a sufficient number of recurrences these kinds of experiences don’t seem to be so rare anymore, as we open and remain open to psychic possibilities.
As a psychotherapist I am particularly interested in the process of working with potential nightmares, dream situations in which the dreamer finds himself or herself being attacked. I am sure you are all familiar with various methods of fighting back in such dreams, and familiar with the potential for becoming lucid when one is under pressure both in the dream state and in the waking state.
Recently I had a client who presented an interesting lucid dream which introduced me to still another model for the transformation of nightmares. The first model that most of us are familiar with is to face the adversary in a dream and fight back, even to the point of killing the adversary if necessary. That method is commonly called the Senoi method. The second rather well known model is one of facing the adversary in a threatening situation and fighting back verbally and psychologically with a series of forceful and pointed questions such as “Who are you?” and “What do you want?” This demanding and aggressively engaging type of interaction is generally deemed to be less violent than the first model. The third model involves facing the adversary and becoming lucid in the dream, and then consciously creating strategic departures from or transcendings of the threatening dream image, such as flying away from the scene (which is not necessarily a form of escapism), flying over a barrier or flying through a wall, or perhaps levitating one’s body in the dream,
A few days ago I heard a fourth model presented by one of my students. Facing the adversary and becoming lucid in a dream, this dreamer allowed the adversary to kill her with a sword, knowing all the while that absolutely no harm could come from this experience. Fully lucid and looking at her dream attacker she said: “You can plunge the sword through me if you wish,” whereupon the adversary did just that. Then the dreamer drew the sword out of her own dream body and very lovingly and wisely gave it back to the adversary, and said: “Thank you.” I don’t know if that model is new to any of you, but it was new to me. I am always impressed by these kinds of responses that are created by people who are using dream lucidity for personal transformation.
I think the territory of dream lucidity is so vast that we will need frequent reminders of this fact in order not to fall into some of the more popular and readily available ego traps surrounding lucid dreaming. I would like to expand on this theme for a moment. You probably remember the story of the three blind pygmies who were each standing beside and each touching a portion of a large elephant, After a short time each pygmy began arguing vehemently that he knew what an elephant was and each began spending a lot of energy trying to convince the others to speak of the elephant exclusively in his terms. I believe we are beginning to see a re- enactment of the pygmy scenario in lucid dream dialogue and lucid dream debate. Perhaps many of these debates originate from our collective failure to realize that the territory of this altered state is so vast--it’s much bigger than the elephant, and even much bigger than the new world that Columbus found--that many different explorers are bound to discover many different things. At this stage it is important to create an explorational attitude in our dialoguing with each other so that we can compare our differing reports with equanimity, and compare and contrast our differing experiences with mutual respect.
It is far too early yet to look for any kind of a consensus on the nature and scope of lucid dreaming. Simply because some people have mystical experiences in lucid dreams does not mean that everybody will, and it certainly does not mean that everybody should. Collectively, we need to continue letting go of our expectations about what ought to happen in lucid dreams. Obviously that is one of the first ego taps that we are likely to fall into: developing expectations and models about what we think ought to happen.
The second ego trap is what I would call the “merit badge trap’. Now that some of us are
becoming lucid dreamers, we may be tempted to act like Eagle Scouts, parading around in public with our merit badges and focusing excessively on our emotional investment instead of focusing primarily on communicating about our experiences. I think we need so communicate about what is happening in our inner realms, but we have to let go of the specialness of it, because we can fall into an endless kind of struggle if we turn psycho-spiritual development into some kind of an achievement. There is a challenging paradox here because if we look at such development from a certain model it does seem to be an authentic achievement. And yet if we look at it only from the achievement model we are going to fall, I think, into the “specialness of me” trap the merit badge trap.
Still another trap is the trap of the universal blueprint. This trap contains the assumption that some type of universal blueprint exists in which the developmental stages of personal growth in dreamwork can be discovered or deciphered. For example, I originally assumed that lucid dreaming occurred in people who were somehow more advanced in their development. Also, I assumed that serious students of the dreamstate needed to develop their basic dreamwork skills before intentionally introducing lucidity. Now, I have come to realize that these assumptions are only assumptions, and while they may be accurate in certain cases, they do not necessarily hold true in all cases,
But what about mystical experiences? Do they happen in lucid dreams, and if so what does that mean? In my own process of inducing lucid dreaming deliberately, which I began in 1980 after working with dreams as a teacher and therapist for over 15 years, I was surprised, and in some ways shocked, to encounter certain dreams that were so powerful that they transcended all of my former experiences and broke me out of those models of the universe, models of consciousness and models of feeling, thinking and reacting that had heretofore structured my reality. Some of this was quite alarming to me at the time. I would like to read one of those dreams to you, perhaps to give you a flavor of what some people do indeed encounter in the lucid state, and the need that I think we have to be aware of the potential of this powerful altered state. This morning Dr. Tart talked about the low lucid dream and the high lucid dream. I like that concept very much, but I would extend it even further. I think that we need a model similar to a giant graduated cylinder that goes all the way up to the sky and beyond. I remember taking chemistry in college and working with one of those tall, glass, graduated cylinders that went from 1 cc to 100 cc’s. I think that an objective scale for the measuring of dream would have to be something like that tall, graduated cylinder except it would not stop at 100. It would go on up to 1000 or even 10,000 and the top of the scale would be beyond our vision at this point in time. I think now, that the range of such a scale would have to be infinite, implying that there are many, many degrees and gradations of lucid consciousness.
Let me read now an example of a dream that I have recounted in my book which I consider to have been a mystical experience. I call this dream “The Arrival of the Serpent Power.”
I’m standing somewhere inside a small dark room, and I see two square window frames in front of me. The frames are simple open spaces in the wall, and I see a bright light streaming in from the outside. I see someone’s hand coming in through one of the windows, reaching toward me, as it holds out some small object of art, perhaps a jewel or crystal. I only see his hand and wrist, and the beautiful small object, as the room itself is in total darkness. Suddenly I realize I am dreaming, and I feel a powerful jolt of energy shoot through my body. I rise up off the floor and enter the light, flying head first through one of the open window frames.
Instantly I enter a whole new scene. Still lucid, I am now outside in a remote area in the woods, standing beside a small log cabin. A beautiful blanket of freshly fallen white snow covers the entire scene with many trees and a lovely valley that extends before me. I am with an unknown female companion, and we are held captive by a band of Indians. As I look out across the valley below me and up the crest on the opposite side, I see two strong’ willed and determined cowboys mounted on horses. Swiftly they ride through the deep snow drifts and in a matter of seconds they cover the distance between us, and they rescue us from the Indians. There is no shooting or violence. They simply arrive, emitting so much power out of their bodies that I know we are liberated.
The scene changes abruptly. Now I am lying face down on the ground somewhere on a patch of bare brown earth. Still fully aware that I am dreaming, I see a huge serpent approach me from the right. Quickly it glides over my back, then turns and passes back underneath me, silently sliding between my body and the ground. Then it rises and turns and comes back up over me again, strongly gripping me around my chest in its powerful coil. Its grey-brown body is about three to four inches thick, and about thirty feet long. Its eyes are strange yellow, green in color, and they gaze at me calmly and steadily, continuously emitting their soft, yellow-green luminescence from within. Finding its position now, the serpent pauses, its head poised in the air about three feet above me. It watches me through its glowing eyes, with a calm and amazingly neutral objectivity. Arching my neck backward and straining to lift my head, I look upward. Our eyes meet, and the impact is extremely powerful, absolutely unforgettable as I gaze for a long moment into the serpent’s profound yellow-green eyes, utterly perplexed and fascinated at the same time. Now I drop my head to the ground and begin to wrestle with the serpent, trying to free myself from its grip. I discover that I am no match for its incredible strength. I feel afraid that it will crush me, and I wrestle with all my might for some time, until exhausted I decide to stop struggling. Soon I perceive that the serpent is actually very gentle, merely intent on holding me in its relentless grip. I am very surprised to feel that its body is warm blooded, and not cold blooded as I would expect. Suddenly it makes a quick jerky movement with its coil, which rotates my prone body onto its side. After a few moments it jerks me back again to a face down position. The serpent seems to be playing with me in some strange uncanny fashion, rotating me back and forth in a gradual deliberate manner. Several times it rotates me from my face down position up onto one side, then back to face down, and then up onto the other side. I feel totally subject to its will, as these movements are repeated several times, each time with a quick and powerful jerk of its massive coil.”
Suddenly the whole seen vanishes. I feel many confusing, swirling energies moving through my body and I feel a lot of dizziness in my head, After a while my field of vision gradually becomes clear again, and I see myself lying on the same spot of bare, brown earth, face down with my body fully outstretched once again. I am still lucid, fully aware that I am dreaming. Now another large, gray-brown serpent approaches me from my right in the exact same manner as the first. This serpent is fully identical to the first in every detail of its appearance, except it is slightly smaller in size and length, Quickly and smoothly it glides over my body and passes beneath me, going between, my body and the ground and coming up over the top again; making one full coil around me exactly as its predecessor had done. Though it is slightly smaller in size I can feel that this serpent too is extremely powerful. It also positions its head about three feet above me and gazes down upon me with full steadiness and inner calm and with the same abundance of amazingly neutral, universal objectivity. Again I stare upwards for a time into the amazing powerful eyes of the serpent trying to fathom its intent. I am entranced with the soft, yellow-green luminescence that steadily flows from somewhere deep, deep within the serpent’s eyes and even from beyond its eyes, as if from the untold reaches of another world. I feel totally in awe as I absorb the air of mystery that emanates from the serpent continuously. I return its steady gazefor a while and then I drop my head as I began to wrestle with it, struggling with all my might to free myself from its powerful grip. I thrash and thrash about, struggling in every way that I can while the serpent remains virtually motionless, calmly gazing at me from above. Effortlessly it holds me in its single coil, exactly as the first serpent had done, until at last I finally surrender, knowing that I am no match for its incredible strength either. As I lie there quietly for several long moments, I realize that like its predecessor, this serpent, too, is quite gentle toward me, in the same, strange, neutral way. I am surprised to feel that it, too, is a warm-blooded creature.
Suddenly I awaken, and I feel very dizzy and confused by multiple, swirling energies surging throughout my body, flowing directly from the dream. I feel overwhelmed by the sheer power of the dream and very excited by it as well
When the dream ended and I woke up, it was about 3:00 o’clock in the morning. I was completely overwhelmed with the indescribable power that surged through my body, originating from this dream. And now, still examining this experience I fully believe that it was a Kundalini type of initiation. Not intended, searched for, expected or planned by the dreamer, it was, however, a type of experience that can happen in certain lucid dreams, and a type of experience that I have heard about from a number of other people. Consequently, I think that we definitely need to be aware of the possibility that some people may experience mystical states and spontaneous Kundalini awakenings through the lucid dream state. And in spite of all confusion, doubts and struggles with such esoteric experiences, we would do well to keep our thoughts fixed on a vision of hope. As Richard Bach once wrote: “There was always light shining in the darkness for those who dare to open their eyes at night.”
University of Northern Iowa
Dreams are, after all, a form of mental image. To be sure, they are ones that occur during sleep, but images none-the-less. In fact, they are extraordinary mental images in that we completely believe they are real until we wake up and discover that we were only dreaming. Even when we add consciousness to sleep our research has shown that lucid dreams differ very little in their felt sense of reality from ordinary dreams. If anything, the felt sense of real in lucid dreams is enhanced. Given the explosion of research looking at the relationship of mental imagery to healing, the obvious place to start the exploration of the potential for lucid dreams to heal our bodies is with the mental image.
Do Mental Images Affect Our Bodies?
As far back as the 1930s, Jacobson found that if you “imagined” or visualized yourself doing a particular action, say lifting an object, the muscles in the arm you imagined you were using would show increased activity. Similarly, other studies have found that subjects salivate more when asked to produce images of their favorite food than when they thought of food they disliked. Imagining an object moving across the sky would stimulate more oculomotor movements than visualizing a stationary object; and, generating images of abstract words produce more pupil dilation in subjects than images of concrete words, which are easier to visualize. In study after study, researchers have found a connection between what people fantasize or imagine and the biological activity involved in actually performing those activities.
Two scientifically rigorous physiological models for mental imagery come from Finke and Freeman. Finke concludes that at higher cortical levels one can find evidence that mental images influence perception. He points out that in understanding this process we should make a distinction between form and function. The image is created within the limitations of an individuals understanding of its form, but once it is created, it will function like the object itself.
Using research into another sensory system, olfaction, Freeman states that, “EEG contour plots reveal our first glimpse of the physical aspect of a mental image ...I believe that neural and mental images are two sides of the same coin.” Further, he concludes by drawing on “the metaphysical foundations and mathematical formalisms of certain aspects of electrical engineering and theoretical chemistry ... [that] ... when microscopic particles such as atoms, cells, insects, or neurons interact in large numbers, a macroscopic entity forms.” In this case the mental image.
The Mind-Disease Link
Before we can consider whether images heal we need to examine if the brain and its functions are connected to the immune system. A new discipline known as psychoneuroimmunology (PNI) has evolved to investigate the role the mind plays in the pattern of disease. We have seen that the image effects the physiology of the mind. Researchers determined that the immune system is not independent from the brain as previously thought. Hall and Goldstein concluded in a 1987 article in The Sciences, “there must exist a functional pathway that links the organ most closely associated with emotions and ideas - the brain - to the organs and tissues that collectively make up the immune system. In fact, two such pathways - one biochemical, the other anatomical - have been discovered. They point out that the immune system is heavily influenced by other bodily processes, especially the central nervous system, by way of the endocrine network and the autonomic nervous system.
From Image to Immunity
We have gone from the image to the brain and from the brain to the immune system, the next step is to go from the image to the immune system. Early research has shown a significant connection between states of mind and the appearance of a wide range of diseases, from arthritis to cancer. Although it is well established it is not well accepted or even well known. Achterberg points out that as of 1984 it had “not been included in any major textbook on immunology, and is rarely considered in the clinical management of immunologic disorders.” Apparently the long standing professional resistance to the mind-body link is alive and well, especially in the medical establishment.
Although it is scientifically difficult to show a direct link between any sort of imagery treatment and a change in the immune system, in a recent review of the imagery and medicine literature, Achterberg does draw a line from the image to the immune system. Briefly, to support a neurological relationship between the image and the body’s maintenance of health she points to the central role of emotions in both imagery and disease. Achterberg argues that they share close cerebral loci. She further states that, “verbal messages must undergo translation by the imagery system before they can be understood by the involuntary or autonomic nervous system and related components.” In the normal healthy individual such translation from imagery to verbal understanding is not necessary, but when we are ill, access to and control of imagination becomes important. Achterberg concludes that “consciously accessing and manipulating images may also prove to be a way to enter into psychophysiological systems and establish harmony in functions and structures which have gone awry.”
The role of mental imagery in healing has a rich historical as well as anthropological heritage. Noll points out in a review of the role of visions in shamanism that “mental imagery ... plays an important role in shamanic healing”. Despite the reluctance of the medical community to accept such procedures, with some noteworthy exceptions, the use of mental imagery techniques as a psychological component in a program of healing is enjoying much interest and support. This interest was set off by the well known and highly controversial work of Simonton and Simonton. In what has come to be know as simply “the Simonton method”, those suffering with cancer and other diseases are being treated with a variety of mental imagery techniques designed to help the patient take some control of his/her illness.
As is often the case with the introduction of new noninvasive clinical methods that “seem” to work they enjoy greater clinical use than experimental validation warrants in their formative years. However, some research has been undertaken. Hall reviewed the experimental studies on imagery and blood measures of immune response. He concluded “it can safely be said ... that imagery is far from being a ‘doubtful idea whose time has come.’ On the contrary, it promises to be a viable adjunct to traditional cancer treatment as well as a means of determining the prognosis of the disease”.
Hypnosis, Meditation, and Healing
A particularly impressive correlation between imagery and physiological responses relevant to healing the body has been found within the relatively small percentage of the population capable of entering a deep hypnotic state. In hypnosis, individuals are carefully guided into a relaxed state and instructed to feel, imagine, and experience ideas or events in a way that alters waking behavior. Warts have receded, smoking stopped, allergies lessened, and blood pressure lowered through hypnotic suggestion. The actual mechanism at work in successful hypnosis is similar to that of other imagery. “By becoming deeply absorbed in imaging a physiological change,” explains Barber, “excellent hypnotic subjects can reinstate the same feelings that are present when the actual physiological change occurs, and the reinstated feelings can stimulate the cells to produce the physiological change.”
Both hypnosis and the more successful non-hypnotic therapeutic imagery techniques combine imagery with relaxation. In the early 1970s, at the urging of the followers of the Maharishi Mahesh Yogi, Herbert Benson began studying the ability of long-term meditators to lower their blood pressure and pulse. He wanted to see if their ability could be learned by people suffering from hypertension. What he identified was the “relaxation response”, his phrase for the meditative state in which the mind is cleared of distractions and stress is relieved.
Since his work was published research based claims of health improvement associated with the regular practice of meditation include reversal of the ageing process (specifically, younger biological age compared to population and control norms and increased longevity); improved health of the cardiovascular system (specifically. decreased blood pressure in hypertensive subjects, decreased serum cholesterol levels and improvements in patients with angina pectoris); improved health of the respiratory system (specifically, fewer upper respiratory tract infections and improvements in patients with chronic bronchitis); improved health of the nervous system (specifically, increased brain wave coherence and increased blood flow to the brain) and better health for mother and child during pregnancy and childbirth (specifically, shorter duration of labor; lower frequency of vacuum or forceps delivery and other operative interventions) Two recent studies have shown that waking imagery combined with relaxation seems to produce the strongest physiological changes. The combination of meditation/relaxation with waking imagery techniques may hold the most hope for the use of the mind to heal the body.
Unfortunately, many of us do not have the discipline to regularly meditate and the potential to reach the deep meditative states most associated with these health improvements. Further, only a small percentage of the population can achieve a deer hypnotic state or daydream with such absorption that it seems real. But everyone sleeps and everyone experiences the vivid imagery of dreams every night whether they want to or not! What if it were possible to harness the independent scenery of the dreamworld to heal?
The Dream Connection
In our era researchers have begun to document the effect the body has on the content of dreams. It has repeatedly been demonstrated that dreams are affected to a limited degree by internally and externally originating somatic stimuli.
A rich source of research into this question has been with women. Robert Van de Castle found that when a woman is ovulating, her dreams are relatively more friendly toward men than toward women, but when she begins to menstruate, her dreams show greater friendliness toward women than toward men. Similarly, the dreams of a pregnant woman may presage her eventual labor. Although some references to the baby will often be found in a women’s second trimester, it is in the third trimester that they abound. Then dreams of labor are common. Researchers have found that the woman who has anxiety and threat dream images about the baby and her forthcoming labor will usually have a shorter labor than the woman whose dreams show happier, less fearful images. It’s as if the threatening dreams are acknowledging the painful event that is to come while the more goody-two-shoe dreams deny that reality just as perhaps the woman who is dreaming them is denying the pain that will be sure to accompany birth.
Similar to waking imagery, “in dream sleep whatever is dreamed is real in terms of physiological responses.” comments Haskell in an excellent review of the research literature relating dreaming to physical illness.
Severe biological illness often finds its way into dreams. Although the research is largely observational and correlational rather than experimental, a body of work relating disease to dreams exists. Such dreams have been shown to be diagnostic and prognostic and, Robert Haskell suggests, “perhaps causal”. Regarding diagnosis, researchers have found that in about 50% of pre-surgical dreams loss of mobility, acts of cutting and destruction, dependency concerns, loss of support, being hurt and injured and loss of power were evidenced compared to 10-15% of post-operative dreams. Haskel points out that dreams which are predictive of disease need not be viewed as quasi-supernatural. “Psychologically, they can be explained in terms of subliminal perception or the dreamer’s cognitive processes perceiving cues too subtle to be processed consciously.” For instance, a patient who died of liver cancer, dreamt six years before his death and five years before the cancer’s onset that he had cancer and that he would live only six to eight years more.
In more recent research into the dream-disease connection Robert Smith reported a correlation between dreams of death and separation and the health of the dreamer in hospitalized patients. Among the male patients those whose dreams contained traumatic images of death had significantly worse organic disease than those whose dreams were free of such imagery. Similarly, among the female patients studied, those with dreams with obvious separation imagery had worse prognoses than did the other female patients.
Cases in which individuals have turned to their dreams for information about their health certainly seem common based on the antidotal stories we all hear. More rare are reports of dreams in which the dreamer has used dreams to affect a healing of him or herself.
The Lucid Dream Connection
What if we could consciously enter our dreams and then try to heal ourselves through dream control? Would this occur simply as a by-product of the consciousness, as the meditation connection to dream lucidity would imply, and/or could healing happen through dream control? Would we wake up with healed bodies? Some speculative questionnaire data exists towards answering these questions.
In 1987, Stephen LaBerge and I prepared a project for OMNI Magazine in which readers were asked to participate in a two-week experiment in lucid dreaming. Among other things, they were asked to write in detail a description of any “healing” lucid dream. After examining the responses we found several cases of apparent dream healing. In the OMNI questionnaire we asked “Have you ever tried to mentally or physically heal yourself in a lucid dream, curing an illness or overcoming a phobia or fear?” Of the 587 people who filled out the OMNI questionnaire, 15% sent along a dream labeled “Lucid Dream Healing” in response to this question. Of these 89 only 9% or 8 dreams were clear cases of healing the body while lucid. The other types of responses were: Vague/unclear- 23 (26%); not a dream - 8 (9%); nightmares - 22 (23%); misc - 5 (6%); sports - 2 (2%); phobias - 8 (9%); get sick in the dream and heal self/other in the dream- 8 (9%); and non-lucid healing -5 (6%).
These eight lucid dreaming healing cases were from four men and four women with an average age of 34.4 years, ranging from 21 to 57. Six of the eight were married and all but one had a college education. Their average family income was about $30,000 with three skilled laborers and two managers among the occupations represented. All claimed to be in good health with no reports of the sleep disease called narcolepsy. Related to individual differences associated with the lucid dreaming ability, ear problems and motion sickness were infrequently reported in this sample.
In terms of their dream history 5 of the 8 were frequently lucid dreamers, that is they had lucid dreams once or more per week. Their normal dream recall history over the past year was relatively frequent. Further they showed a mixed pattern of nightmares, false awakenings, and pre-lucid dreams over the past year. Consistent with research on frequently lucid dreamers this set claimed to control both their lucid and non-lucid dreams. Finally, flying while lucid was quite common in this group.
One respondent, Krisanne Gray, from Spokane, Washington, related how she has used lucid dreaming to quit smoking, stop biting her nails, lose weight, and rid herself of hives and menstrual cramps. Although she has never seen a doctor for her hives, she is often bothered by them and has controlled them by suggesting to herself as she falls asleep that she needs to calm down. Then when she turns lucid, she creates a cool meadow environment in which she continues to tell herself to calm down. After this dream experience her hives have repeatedly disappeared.
Gray handles menstrual cramps in a similar fashion. She reports one particular instance in which on the day she was to play in a tennis tournament her period started and she was plagued with severe cramps. Fearing she would not be able to compete. Gray took a fifteen minute nap in which she dreamt she was on the bench waiting for the tournament to begin and the cramps were bothering her. At that point she turned lucid and located the locus of pain in her body. She told herself to relax those muscles. When she awoke from her dream, her cramps were gone and she went on to compete in the tournament.
In another ease a young married woman from Bedford, Texas relayed a dream that she believes healed a pulled muscle in her chest. She had the dream a week after pulling the muscle, an injury that bothered her almost every time she moved. “I was reading a book one night before going to sleep about an Indian medicine man who has performed a healing ritual,” she writes. “I turned out the light and began fantasizing about going to Nevada and meeting the medicine man. This moved into a dream where I saw myself walking into a small desert town and down a road to the medicine man’s house. I don’t remember much else except the medicine man kept repeating over and over, ‘Believe in me and you will be healed.’ I remember thinking that I was dreaming and that it was silly to believe that a medicine man could come to me in a dream but I decided to go with the flow and relaxed as he kept repeating the sentence. I woke about an hour-and-a-half after I had turned the lights out and sat up in bed. I moved my arms and body around. The pain was gone.”
Ailments represented included a recurring headache, menstrual cramps and hives, sprained ankle, pulled muscle, torn ligament and skin cancer. It is important to keep in mind that none of the cures reported by the OMNI readers can be called miraculous, but they may demonstrate that during the enhanced state of mental imagery called dreams one can intuit and perhaps affect the health of ones body. At the least, certain commonalties can be found among these examples that hint at a pattern of apparent dream healing. These are on this overhead:
1. There is a history of dreaming lucidly as well as lucid and non-lucid dream control.
2. There is a definite pre-sleep intent to lessen the physical discomfort.
3. This intent is recalled upon awakening in the dream.
4. Action is taken either by the dreamer or by a dream character to rid the “dream
body” (and by implication at least the physical body) of the discomfort.
5. The dreamed actions are, with one exception, non-harm inducing although not
necessarily passive (i.e., relaxation, laying on of hands, belief in a healer dream
character, and prescribed exercise).1
6. The positive results of the dreamed action are apparent in the dream.
7. Upon awakening the results of the dreamed action are often apparent shortly after
the dream experience.
But there is another line of inquiry we can take to explore the potential of lucidity for healing by examining the characteristics of individuals who frequently dream lucidly.
Lucid Dreamers Not As Vulnerable to Disease
Based on the stress and illness literature it appears that not only are frequently lucid individuals the best candidates to use their dreams to heal themselves they also possess personality characteristics which predispose them to not be as vulnerable to stress related disease as non-lucid dreamers. Further, if lucid dreamers do get such diseases they are best equipped psychologically to deal with illness. These hypotheses are based on several indirect lines of evidence from work with three psychological concepts: psychosocial adjustment, alexithymia and private self consciousness.
Psychosocial adjustment to illness has been receiving intensified attention in medicine in recent years. Such adjustment to illness is typically conceptualized as multidimensional. For instance, Derogatis showed that patients with a confirmed diagnosis of lung cancer showed poorer psychosocial adjustment than the comparison sample of individuals who thought they might have lung cancer but later found out they did not. Psychosocial adjustment also plays a role in dream life. Cartwright, among others, has conceptualized the dream as an emotional problem-solving, adaptive process. She found “differences between the dreams of those who make a good emotional adaptation to their changed lives and those who do not”. Relatedly, my students and I found that over a 16-week period lucid dreamers were more likely to experience lucid dreams on nights following stressful days and that these lucid nights were likely to be followed by days with relief from stress.
Alexithymia is found in psychosomatic patients who have affective deficit, inhibition of fantasy, a concrete operatory style of thought and behavior and stereotypic manner of relating to others. Central to the construct of alexithymia is the lack of fantasy and imaginal capacities. Controlling for dream recall, individuals who frequently experience dream lucidity have been found to report more spontaneous waking fantasies than those who have never had a lucid dream. Further, poor hypnotic subjects had significantly higher alexithymia scores than good subjects. Those with an ease in attaining lucidity tend to be better hypnotic subjects. Finally, one study found high alexithymic scores to be related to low REM production. One of the most robust findings in the lucidity literature is its strong association with phasic REM and high dream recall.
Self-consciousness is a state which has been conceptualized as “the existence of self-directed attention, as a result of either transient situational variables, chronic dispositions, or both”. Two studies have found that, “the incidence of stressful life events predicted subsequent illness among persons low in private self-consciousness but not in persons high in private self-consciousness”. Gackenbach and her colleagues found that high private self-consciousness was a strong predictor of lucid dreaming frequency in men.
In sum, based on the associations, direct and indirect, of the lucid dreaming ability positively to psychosocial adjustment and private self-consciousness and negatively to alexithymia, lucid dreamers should not be as inclined to stress based illness as non-lucid dreamers.
I found support for this thesis in my dissertation where I directly looked at health variables as a function of lucid frequency. Although I found no dreamer type differences on several health variables such as diet plan, exercise, alcohol, smoking, drug use, coffee or tea drinking and vitamin use, when these data were reanalyzed considering sex of subject and controlling for dream recall ability I found that frequently lucid women tended to be healthy whereas frequently lucid men were not. Further, across sex, my husband and I found that non-lucid individuals having been screened for vestibular related problems still evidenced borderline vestibular pathology.
In closing, dream lucidity not only offers the potential to help us heal our bodies while sick but also by sustained access to the state we may be less likely to get sick.
l A common strategy recommended in the waking imagery literature is one of aggressive attack of the illness although more recently suggestions have been made that this strategy may not be universally functional.
United States International University
I’d like to begin by sharing a dream that I had fairly frequently when I was a child, between the ages of 6 and 12. 1 was lucid. I would fly, and the first place that I would choose to go, was the ocean. I would fly sometimes during the night and see the ocean glistening below me, and sometimes during the day where I would see my reflection, but the place that I went was always the same. It was a place called Bali. I often wondered what that could mean. I don’t remember consciously recognizing where Bali was as a place in the world, but that is where I would go, and that’s where I would land.
Two and half years ago, I began my dissertation wondering what on earth I was going to study, and really wanting to do something that reflected who I was. Dreams, lucid and none, have always been close to me. I came to this study as a clinician working some ten years with children, young children, preschool to school age. I had originally intended on studying lucid dreaming as a treatment approach, particularly with children with nightmares, arid children who had been molested. However, when it came time to gather a committee it became quickly apparent that there were no studies validating that lucid dreams even exist in children. So I made a leap from applied clinical work to this foreign, but very exciting and challenging area of psychophysiological study. I had hardly even stepped into a sleep laboratory before I did this study. Over the past couple of years I have really wondered why on earth I was doing this. Even though there was a lot of joy in it, there was also a lot of challenge and difficulties.
I want to emphasize that the purpose of my study was to validate lucid dreams in school age children, not to study how to teach the skill or how to increase the skill in children who already have the skill, or even how to use it. It was a study of validation, looking at how we could validate the phenomenon. I chose to work with ten, eleven and twelve year olds based on Foulkes’ work. These children are more developmentally able to define dreams as internally originating versus externally. Children of this age show an increase in the psychological acts of seeing, talking, feeling, moving and manipulating things in their dreams. Further, the rate of dream accessibility with respect to dream recall reaches a near-adult rate.
There were three major parts to my study. The first way that I approached this problem was conducting a survey, which was comprised of two multiple choice questions along with the opportunity to share content about lucid dreams. I asked the children how often they recalled their regular, non-lucid dreams and their lucid dreams. The rate of recall could have either been never, once a year, once a month, once a week, once a night, or not sure I personally introduced the questionnaire to the children and defined lucid dreams to them as dreams where we know that we’re dreaming while we’re dreaming, and I would give them an example. I conducted the survey with 40 boys and 60 girls; there were 30 ten-year-olds, 45 eleven-year-olds, and 25 twelve-year olds. As I said before, there was also a space for them to self-report the details of the content of lucid dreams.
The second approach I worked with was conducting a lucid dream training program with 13 children. There were 12 girls and one brave boy. Of these there were 6 ten-year-olds, 5 eleven-year-olds and 2 twelve-year-olds. I ruled out children who had any kind of diagnosed emotional problem, any kind of cognitive deficit or learning disability and children who were on any kind of medications. I conducted the sessions weekly for six weeks, and each session lasted an hour.
Here is a brief description of the way that I ran the group. I did everything and anything that I thought might help increase the skill of lucid dreams in order to validate it. There was an opening and sharing time each week where we talked about pleasant dreams or things that I hoped would elicit their trust in both me and each other as well as increase some group cohesion and to thus enhance the effectiveness of the group. There was also an educational component to the group where we talked about how different cultures utilize lucid dreams and the history of awareness of lucid dreams. I distributed handouts during this time. There was also what I called a dream review or re-creating exercise, where I primarily utilized expressive arts to help the children become more comfortable with their dream content; help increase their dream recall, and help them in feeling comfortable with having lucid dreams.
As an example of this kind of exercise we would talk about a dream that they may have had and how they would change it, similar to Patricia Garfield’s re-dreaming exercise. We did this in different ways. We used all sorts of expressive arts. We used dramatic arts, clay, paintings, watercolors among others. I also had a relaxation portion of the training program where I took the children through a relaxation experience. I began with helping them feel comfortable with remembering their dreams, being in their dreams, arid finally toward the last three weeks of the training program developing lucid dreaming.
At the end of each session we talked about tasks that I had asked them to do during the week, which included a dream log. Each child was given seven dream logs to complete during each week, and they were to return them to me at the end of the week. Examples of the dream log material include: specific content questions about the main character, how active they were in the dream, what their affect was during the dream, questions concerning whether or not they were lucid in their dream and if they were lucid, they were asked to include that specific content.
During the first two weeks I had them conduct reality testing during each day five to ten times a day, and I had them answer questions documenting this. I also gave them a little bracelet to wear around to remind themselves that they were to do the reality testing. Reality testing, by the way, is going around during the day saying, “Am I dreaming?” and then imagining what it would be like if you were dreaming. I instructed them on how to use the MILD technique as well as re-dreaming. We also worked on some other ways to induce lucidity like talking to themselves before they went to sleep.
The third way that I used to address the validation of lucid dreams in these children was that I conducted four non-consecutive sleep studies with four of the children. There were three girls and one boy. There were two ten-year-olds, two eleven-year-olds. We didn’t have any twelve-year-olds in this particular group. The first sleep study was conducted prior to the lucid dream training program. The second one was two weeks into the group then four weeks into the group, and lastly after the group was completed. During every sleep study I instructed the children on how to make the prescribed left-right-left-right eye movements that LaBerge has talked about at thirty second intervals. We would awaken them after one minute after they stopped signaling, or we would awaken them in the morning.
During the second sleep study we also awoke the children after each REM stage. During the third sleep study I made the lucidity goggles that Stephen has talked about available to the children. Two of the children chose to wear them during some portion of the night, however, they were not entirely comfortable with them on, so we didn’t get a full night with the lucidity goggles. I considered it a positive validation of lucid dreams when we observed the eye movements during REM as a confirm in a verbal self-report by the child. In addition to these portions of the study, we addressed the content of lucid dreams versus non-lucid dreams with the dream log material. I also administered, pre- and post, the Piers- Harris Childrens’ Self-Concept Rating Scale. The children to look at whether the lucid dream training program might have a beneficial effect on their self-concept.
In terms of the results, 63% of the sample that I used reported recalling lucid dreams at least once during their lives. Of these 54% reported them with some frequency; that is once a month or more. It is interesting to note that ten-year-olds reported the highest regular recall of lucid dreams, with 63% reporting monthly. It is also interesting to note that 8% of the girls versus 17% of the boys reported never recalling lucid dreams, and 68% of the girls versus 56% of the boys reported that they had regular or monthly lucid dreams. Also, it is interesting to note that
Recall of lucid dreams appears to go down, at least in this sample, as children age. Sixty-three percent of the ten-year-olds, again, reported monthly lucid dreams, 58% of the eleven-year-olds, and finally 36% of the twelve-year-olds. However, we need to remember that a lot of these children weren’t also reporting content. We have content material with the lucid dreams from the dream logs. However, with the questionnaire we don’t have content on all of those dreams.
With the lucid dream training program, I wanted to mention that four of the 13 children began the training reporting fairly frequent--once a month or greater--recall of lucid dreams. Two reported never having them, two reported once a year, two reported once a month, one reported once a week, one reported once a night, and five reported that they weren’t sure. Twelve of the 13 children reported at least one lucid dream in the dream logs.
During the first sleep study we had four eye movement signal observations and two reported. Two were confirmed. That was an exciting night. During the second study we had one observed and one reported, one being confirmed. During the third sleep study we had two observed and two reported, two being confirmed. During the fourth sleep study we had two observed and two reported, one being confirmed. In terms of the number of lucid dreams per subject in the laboratory, subject No. 1 had no lucid dreams, subject No. 2 zero, subject No. 3 had five lucid dreams, and subject No. 4 had one. I might add that this third subject came in the first night, sure about what she wanted to dream, dreamed it and it was lucid. She did that every time. By the way, the two other children who didn’t have dreams in the lab did report lucid dreams in dream logs.
Specific Lucid Dreams
I want to read a couple of the examples of the lucid dreams that some of the children had. The first one is. “I saw a giant Mickey Mouse that was pink and orange and yellow. At first I was scared, and then I realized that it couldn’t be true and I must be dreaming. I thought it was funny then and I got to be as big as it was.” Here is an example from the little girl who had the five documented lucid dreams in the lab: “I told myself to dream that I was in a ballet, and that I had point shoes, and that’s what I did. I had a lucid dream because I knew that I really couldn’t dance on point shoes.” Another one dreamed, “It was snowing. I realized that it couldn’t be. Then I knew I was dreaming and I made it so that I was on a beach with palm trees next to an ocean.” As I recall she wanted to go to both places for her holiday, so she decided to incorporate the two: “My friends and I were in a house and some cowboys or something were trying to get some earrings, which S. and I were wearing, off of us. The way that I found out that it was a dream was that I don’t have my ears pierced, and that it was an old house yet the soccer field at my house was there. My school was there. Then we went to the Del Mar Fair and I made it so that we got on all the rides for free, and got earrings free too.” This is a girl who dreamt that she was under the water, realized that she was breathing, and realized that she was lucid.
In conclusion, I think it can be confirmed that lucid dreams do exist among these children. However, there are so many more questions to be explored. Areas that I would be particularly interested in would have to do with the development of the concept and understanding of dreams among children, especially among young children. Looking at any cross- cultural differences in awareness of dreams and understanding of dreams, particularly lucid. The relationship between creativity and children’s lucid dreaming. I will end with my dream. Yesterday evening Jill Gregory came by and we were talking about the dream from my childhood. We began to play with this dream. We turned the letters around and Bali is “I Lab.’
QUESTION: What is the earliest age that you have heard reported for a child’s lucid dreaming?
ARMSTRONG-HICKEY: Well, Stephen has had lucid dreams early in his life. I would say five or six for me. For me, working with children in my clinical practice, the youngest age is six. [EDITORS NOTE: See Gray article for more on this.]
QUESTION: I had lucid dreams around five, and I have a daughter that is nine years old. She had her first reported lucid dream at eight, and then another one at nine. Were the children in your study excited about it?
ARMSTRONG-HICKEY: Oh, they were thrilled. It was wonderful. It was a real exhilarating experience for me. I come from working clinically with children, so I see a slanted view of children, and this was a great experience.
Maharishi International University
While most accounts of “awareness” during sleep have focused on the phenomenon of “dream lucidity”, in this presentation I will discuss a qualitatively distinct state of consciousness beyond ordinary lucidity that can be experienced along with dreaming and deep sleep. This state is referred to in the ancient Vedic tradition as “samadhi” or pure consciousness”. When this state is maintained during dreaming or sleep, it is said to serve as a silent “witness” or observer to these changing relative states.
Distinguishing Between Pure Consciousness and Dream Lucidity
Let us begin by distinguishing between ordinary lucidity and witnessing. Dream lucidity appears to involve a commingling of the ordinary waking state with the dream state. During the process of dreaming, it is as if the cognitive capacities of the ordinary waking state become activated, and one can now function volitionally from within the dream world. One’s awareness typically remains identified (or associated) with that of the dream ego, but an arsenal of additional waking state abilities are added (e.g. rational decision processes, memory of having been awake). In lucid dreaming, though one can now actively think about the fact that one is dreaming, one still remains relatively absorbed in the dream world.
In contrast, the experience of pure consciousness is said to totally transcend the activities of both ordinary waking and sleeping. Whereas dream lucidity is typically associated with an increase in cognitive processing and possibly somatic arousal, pure consciousness is described as a heightened state of content-free awareness accompanied by deep silence, a state in which all ordinary activity of thinking, feeling and perceiving has come to a complete rest, yet awareness remains wide awake within itself. What wakes up in lucid dreaming is the localized, active individual ego of the ordinary waking state, the bounded “I” of experience with which we typically identify -- albeit now transported into a dream landscape. In contrast what wakes up during witnessing is the silent, unified state of pure consciousness, said to lie at the basis of all active states of mind and changing states of consciousness. In this state, awareness becomes fully “self-referral”, capable of knowing itself directly without conceptual mediation of any kind. The boundaries of the active, localized self are transcended and awareness is said to become identified with a silent inner unbounded Self at the origin of mind, which is experienced as “i-ness”, “am-ness” or “Being”. Maharaishi describes this experience of the Self:
Self has two connotations: lower self and higher Self. The lower self is that aspect of the personality that deals only with the relative aspect of existence. It comprises the mind that thinks, the intellect that decides, the ego that experiences. This lower self functions only in the relative states of existence – waking, dreaming, and deep sleep ... The higher Self is that aspect of the personality which never changes, absolute Being [pure consciousness], which is the very basis of the entire field of relativity, including the lower self.
In “witnessing”, the Self becomes fully differentiated from and an observer to the changing states of waking, dreaming and sleep and the functioning of the localized self which is embedded in those states. Thus, unlike the typical lucid state in which the localized waking-state self can now function from within the dream; in witnessing, an unbounded Self silently observes from outside of the dream state.
According to Maharishi’s Vedic tradition, witnessing can become a constant reality experienced throughout the 24-hour waking/sleeping cycle and not just experienced during rare moments while dreaming. The goal of Transcendental Meditation (TM) is to provide systematic experience of the pure consciousness state. Maharishi explains:
The Transcendental Meditation technique is an effortless procedure for allowing the excitation of the mind to gradually settle down until the least excited state of mind is reached. This is a state of inner wakefulness with no object of thought or perception, just pure consciousness, aware of its own unbounded nature. It is wholeness, aware of itself, devoid of difference, beyond the division of subject and object -- transcendental consciousness.
During this experience knower, known, and the process of knowing converge in one wholeness of experience. This is described as a self-referral state. Because there is only the awareness of awareness. You are aware that you are. There is no active processing of mental contents it is just a state of pure “knowing-ness,” or being. It is a very gratifying kind of existential reconnection with your basic self.
The goal of meditation, of the TM program, is to maintain this pure consciousness state outside of meditation. On the basis of the deep state of rest experienced during TM, tension and stress is released that otherwise blocks one from this silent experience of the Self. Gradually, over years of meditating, this pure consciousness begins to adhere to you, or you adhere to it, and you begin to maintain this silent state during waking, dreaming, and sleeping. Pure consciousness then functions as a witness to ordinary daily activity. You still may engage in ordinary thought, but the silent state is as a backdrop to active states of consciousness. The advantage of this silent state is that it is a state of complete harmony, peace, and inner fulfillment, and cannot be disrupted. Because it doesn’t get disrupted, you don’t lose this “inner lifeline” to Being within.
A substantial body of research has been conducted on the psychophysiological correlates of pure consciousness. Maharishi predicted that pure consciousness would prove to be a distinctive state of restful alertness qualitatively different from ordinary waking, dreaming and sleeping. On the one hand, a deep state of inner silence would be experienced. On the other hand, one is said to become increasingly alert or aware. Indeed, enlightenment is sometimes referred to as simply being fully awake. Thus, this state is said to have a dual character of being both very silent yet more awake, but not aroused. It is both together in one condition.
It has now been repeatedly shown that in the experience of pure consciousness during TM (as indicated by button pressing immediately after the experience) respiration rate often drops to virtually zero for as long as a few seconds up to a minute. For some advanced practitioners of TM, their respiration is virtually absent for over half of their meditation. On the other hand, during these experiences, EEG alpha and theta power increased substantially. Also EEG patterns became more “coherent” -- i.e., brain waves become similar in phase and frequency within and between cerebral hemispheres (especially in the frontal and central regions). Thus suggesting a simultaneous increase in alertness and functional integration.
Phenomenological Experience of Pure Consciousness
Now that I have conceptually described the pure consciousness state and how it may differ from lucidity, let me provide some phenomenological descriptions of this state. I’ll begin with experiences of pure consciousness in isolation during experiences of TM, as reported by subjects. Their reports are bolstered by the fact that they also displayed substantial periods of respiratory suspension and increased EEG coherence associated with these experiences. The first subject says, “When I experience pure consciousness, it is a state in which I am awake and aware, but not aware of anything except awareness itself. As I merge into the experience, outer-relatedness lessens and inner peace and self-sufficiency remains. It is not an intellectual experience. It is by far the most intimate and simple experience in my life.’
A second experience: “I experience pure consciousness as a state of unboundedness and total ease and deep relaxation. There are no thoughts, no feelings, or any other sensations like weight or temperature. I just know I am. There is no notion of lime or space, but my mind is fully awake and perfectly clear. It is a very simple and natural state.” This quote clarifies that this is “pure” in that it is content-free. There is no object of thought. It is not qualified by any particular thought or feeling. It is awareness awake to its own nature, but without any content. That is why the experience has been described as “being” or just “am-ness.”
These experiences, of course, don’t just take place in meditators, they occur in non-meditators as well. The purpose of meditation is to stimulate more frequent occurrence of this experience. In a Prelude, written by the nineteenth century poet Wordsworth, a spontaneous experience of pure consciousness seemed to be described. “That serene and blessed mood in which the affections gently lead us on until the breath of this corporeal frame and even the motion of our human blood almost suspended we are laid asleep in body and become a living soul.” This poem clearly describes the dual character of pure consciousness. He describes this experience of attention spontaneously settling down as it does during meditation, until the breath becomes “almost suspended”. Yet at the same time we “become a living soul”.
We have begun to conduct research to determine if pure consciousness can be maintained outside of meditation -- especially during sleep. In a pilot study of an advanced TM meditator who claimed to be having this witnessing experience of a serene inner-state throughout waking, dreaming, and sleeping, we found when compared to the sleep of two lucid dreamers and a non-lucid dreamer, that this particular subject seemed to physiologically maintain a deeper state of rest. He had lower respiration rate, lower heart rate, and less REM density, but he also appeared to be alert and could signal from REM sleep, Stage I, and Stage II sleep with strong lateral eye movements. This suggests that he may be experiencing the restfully alert state of pure consciousness during sleep.
Through the efforts of Jayne Gackenbach and Robert Cranson we also now have some preliminary content analyses of the pure conscious experience during sleep. A very advanced group of meditators at an in-residence meditation facility in upstate New York filled out questionnaires on their frequency of experiencing three types of consciousness in sleep: lucid dreaming (which we defined as actively thinking about the fact that you are dreaming); witnessing dreaming (while dreaming you experience a quiet, peaceful inner awareness or wakefulness completely separate from the dream); or witnessing deep sleep (during dreamless sleep you experience a quiet, peaceful, inner state of awareness of wakefulness). These subjects were then required for validation purposes to provide a detailed description of these experiences. Gackenbach then performed a content analysis by first identifying categories that may discriminate among these experiences and then assigning the different experiences into each category. There were 55 lucid dreams, 41 witnessing dreams, and 47 witnessing in deep sleep experiences reported by these 66 advanced male meditators. The content categories showing distinctions between them are depicted in Table 1.
Percent Representations for Content Categories as a Function of Type
of Sleep Consciousness Experience
Type of Sleep Experience
Content Categories Lucid Dream Witness Dream Wit. Deep Sleep
Number of Experiences 55 41 47
State Transition* 20% 2% 55%
Physical Body Reference* 2% 5% 27%
Dream Body Flying* 11% 12% 4%
Dream Body Running* 16% 2% 0%
Lightness Reference* 0% 7% 8%
Dream Control* 47% 5% 2%
Feeling of Separateness* 7% 73% 33%
Positive Emotions 35% 43% 25%
High Positive Emotions* 7% 17% 17%
Consciousness Trigger* 53% 0% 4%
*An asterisk indicates a significant difference using Chi-square between types of sleep experiences for that content category at the .05 level.
Most revealing of these categories was the one on feelings of separateness. In lucid dreaming only 7 percent of the cases were those in which people reported feeling separateness. Whereas in the witnessing dream experience, 73 percent of the cases spontaneously reported in their dream description that the dream went on, but they were separate from it. These reports are consistent with our conceptual descriptions of witnessing as involving the complete differentiation of pure consciousness from the dream state -- functions as a silent witness completely distinct from or outside of the dreaming state.
Following are examples of maintaining the silent experience of pure consciousness along with but separate from the dream state: “Sometimes no matter what comes into the dream, I feel, an inner tranquil awareness that is removed from the dreaming. Sometimes I may even be caught up in the dream but the inner awareness of peace remains.” Another example: “I watch it as it is going on separate from me. There are parts, me and the dream, two different realities.” These are examples of this feeling of separateness.
Another category which is interesting is that of emotion. There seem to be positive emotions associated with all three states, but extremely positive emotion was reported more frequently for witnessing dreaming and witnessing deep sleep as were feelings of lightness. This is reminiscent of, according to Maharishi’s Vedic tradition, an experience of profound bliss or “Ananda” experience of the inner Self or Being.
On the other hand, dream control was much more frequent during lucid dreaming than witnessing dreams. This is consistent with the claims that dream lucidity typically involves active information processes, manipulation of dream content. As it were, the “will” or volutional capacity of the individual ego can act on its thoughts and desires. This is in contrast to the experience of pure consciousness which is said to be one of complete inner fulfillment or contentment. The Self does not act, but silently observes the changes occurring within waking, dreaming, and sleep.
Also over half the time lucid dreaming was triggered by incongruent mental events in the dreams that appeared to stimulate or awaken intellectual or discriminative processes typical of the waking state. On the other hand, witnessing dreaming and sleep were virtually never triggered by such mental events. The most unambiguous criterion of witnessing is maintenance of pure consciousness even during deep sleep. Because lucidity involves active thinking and deep sleep is generally, although not always, without mentation, it is not surprising that lucidity (as typically experienced) drops out during deep sleep. However, after long-term practice, TM practitioners gradually begin to report experiences of “witnessing”, or maintenance of pure consciousness, even during dreamless sleep.
Here are a few examples: “It is a feeling of infinite expansion and bliss and nothing else. First, it is like an abstract experience of bliss. There is no identity at all. Then I become aware that I exist, but there is no individual personality. Then I become aware that I am an individual, but no details of who, where, or what or when. Eventually these details fill in, and I might then wake up. Sometimes I’m lying there very quietly enjoying the silence, and then I will gradually become aware that I am snoring.” Mother experience: “How do you describe an unmanifest experience? It has only happened a half dozen times in 15 years, but when it occurs, its crystal clear. Silence, wakefulness. Dark/clear and open. Silent/lively - like an amplifier turned on, but no sound. The experience fades as boundaries of dreams or waking state gather, gain definition and overshadow.”
From the perspective of Maharishi’s Vedic Science, the significance of the experience of pure consciousness is that it provides the foundation for the development of stable higher stages of consciousness or “enlightenment”. Witnessing of deep sleep indicates that the inner wakefulness of pure consciousness is now beginning to be maintained even during the most extreme conditions of mental inertia -- dreamless sleep. Indeed, according to Maharishi, the first stable higher stage of consciousness termed “cosmic consciousness” -- is defined as the maintenance of pure consciousness throughout the 24-hour cycle of waking, dreaming, and deep sleep.
One final consideration, in the growth of the first stage of enlightenment, pure consciousness is said to become a silent observer or witness to the changing states of waking, dreaming, and sleeping. However, this development of inner self-sufficiency should not be confused with a state of compassionless detachment. In accordance with Erik Erikson’s injunction that identity provides the basis of intimacy, it is also when one establishes ones ultimate inner identity “Being” or Self that a truly profound foundation for intimacy with others is achieved. Unless you fully know who you are through the self-referral of Being, you are not in an ideal position to know and help others, The unbounded Self is classically described as “nonattached’ not because it is withdrawn but because it can no longer be disrupted or overshadowed by the boundaries or changing values of thoughts, perceptions and actions. The blissful experience of inner Being thus provides a natural basis for sharing. The sharing of one’s happiness and inner resources with others.
A Panel Discussion
Today we are dealing with clinical and ethical implications of lucid dreaming, along with any possible contra-indications for lucidity. Our panelists are Alan Moffitt, Jayne Gackenbach, Eric Craig, Stephen LaBerge and Ken Kelzer. I will function as chair. We will keep everybody to an initial five minute basic statement, and then we can have discussions among ourselves and also input from the floor. By way of introduction, it seems that one can take lucidity in somewhat different directions. Certainly it can be taken as an experimental tool for the systematic observation of dreaming while it goes on, and has been so developed by Stephen LaBerge. We have seen that lucid dreaming can be a process pursued in its own right, one that may overlap with various meditative traditions. It is especially in the latter context that the question arises, whether there are clinical, dynamic, ethical complications or dilemmas that can develop in the context of highly intensified lucid dreaming? Can lucid dreaming to some extent go wrong for certain individuals?
We do have some context for this kind of discussion, from transpersonal psychology, the Jungian tradition, and the LSD research tradition. Current transpersonal psychology, in work by Wilbur, Engler, Epstein and others, is now increasingly trying to integrate psychoanalytic object relations theory with the idea of a developmental model of the spiritual path. Engler has suggested that one very common pitfall in developing meditators is that they can confuse aspects of what might also be called self pathology, including tendencies to grandiosity, with higher states. Ken Wilbur has suggested that at higher stages of meditative development these processes can themselves create certain spiritual crises that at least have a superficial resemblance to psychotic breaks and psychotic crises.
Jungian circles have come to similar conclusions, starting in the fifties and sixties in London. Increasingly Jungian analysts supplement archetypal analyses and individuation with the object relations tradition of Melanie Klein, Balint and Winnecott. Many Jungians now use these traditions alternatively, on the view that there isn’t anybody, or almost anybody, in the West so spiritually advanced that they aren’t going to get periodically caught up again in so-called transference or dynamic issues.
And finally of course the LSD research tradition of Stan Grof demonstrated that although one could debate about whether LSD states modeled mysticism or modeled psychosis, nonetheless, in those people for whom these states take a more spiritual direction, at certain points there will be crises of a more psychiatric or clinical kind occurring midway on the way towards integrative and transcendent states. So the transpersonal, Jungian, and LSD traditions show common dilemmas and cross-overs between spirituality and dynamic conflicts, and it may be that lucid dreaming is now retracing some of these same issues. With such precedents perhaps we can avoid some earlier misunderstandings.
I think Harry said it eloquently. I really can’t stress this enough, all of us both in the panel and those working in the field, share a joy at dreaming lucidly as well as concerns. These range from methodological and research concerns to transpersonal and clinical concerns. We simply fall at different ends of the continuum, but we all have some concerns. As much as you may see disagreement in the field, I feel that there is unity as well.
I am having trouble knowing where to start because I have so many disagreements with the direction lucidity and lucidity research has been going in. I find it difficult to know how to articulate that, but I will try. I have some very specific objections to both Steven LaBerge and to Charles Alexander and to some others. In Steven’s book, he says that lucidity bears the same relationship to normal dreaming as enlightenment does to normal waking consciousness. I cannot express how profoundly I disagree with that position. I think in fact that it is an example of what Wilbur called the pre-trans fallacy, confusing something which is in fact relatively primitive with something that is in fact spiritually developed. That is what Charles Alexander says, in Lucidity Letter where he argues that those who dream lucidly are somehow more grown up (more developed). Chogyam Trungpa called such attitudes “spiritual materialism,” and from my point of view that is the direction that lucid dream research has been going in. Spiritual materialism refers to the use of spiritual things for the enhancement of ego.
What I worry about in lucidity is that there are all kinds of terminological fallacies that go on in this area. Certain states are “higher”, others are “lower”. There is a developmental sequence that leads up. A number of things are wrong. First, mental states are not Euclidian, so high and low don’t mean anything. Second, if you have a sequence that doesn’t mean that you have a developmental sequence. Most people just grow older, they don’t grow up. People in this area may be working on the wrong developmental model. If you talk about development, you have to talk about three things, not one. Development is not just concerned with growth. Growth simply means getting bigger. If you talk to someone who does developmental embryology they will tell you that development involves growth, morphogenesis (the development of form). and differentiation and hierarchical integration. I think it is extremely confusing to people to suggest that lucidity or witnessing automatically and necessarily lead to growth. They can also lead to depersonalization experiences. I think the lucidity and witnessing people are playing with dynamite, and I think it is essential that at the very least there should be the kind of warning that you have on cigarette packages—“Can be dangerous to your health.”
There are also some hidden agendas to which I want to draw your attention, not as a scientist but as a humanist. The information I’m going to show you comes from the Maharishi International University. Now I don’t know whether they still do this, but here is a glossy advertisement for their TM-Sidhi program. My understanding of a Sidhi is that it is a power. At points of maximum coherence in the EEG, it is claimed in this brochure, that one engages in what appears to me to be levitation. Now my objection to that is not scientific, I want to emphasize that I object to that on my own ethical, moral and spiritual grounds, because I think that is the wrong way to go. In Philip Kapleau’s book, The Three Pillars of Zen, he quotes a seventh century AD. Zen Buddhist text, which says that on the path of meditation you may well in fact develop special powers on Sidhis: levitation, precognition, all kinds of things. The proper mental attitude which the ancient Japanese texts suggest, is “so what?” The Sidhis are at best only a rough index of where you are on the spiritual path. If you divert from the path that you are on into the exploration of those Sidhis, you’ve lost the path. You’ve missed it. If that is where you want to go, then I’m sorry, I just don’t want to go along.
I appreciate what the previous speaker is bringing to our attention. As far as I can tell from my own personal experience, and that is where I speak mostly from, and from the limited experience of perhaps 20 to 25 lucid dreamers that I have worked with in my practice. I see two possible dangers in the cultivation of lucid dreaming. Actually I referred to both of them in my main presentation. One possible danger is that people may unintentionally awaken the Kundalini energy through the cultivation of lucid dreaming. Again I want to emphasize some people may experience this, but I do not think that every lucid dreamer will.
The second danger is what I call an inflation of the ego. I addressed this subject at length in my book. I used myself as my own primary guinea pig, when I talked about my own experiences of becoming inflated after I had experienced some profound and psychically moving lucid dreams. Looking back on my experiment with lucid dreaming there is no doubt that ego inflation happened to me, and at times, I can now see it happening to others. Recently, I have been talking about this subject at length with transpersonal psychologists and other professionals, and while I agree that a note of caution needs to be taken in line with what the previous speaker has said, I also think there is another potential trap that one could easily fall into in looking at the phenomenon of inflation of the ego. This potential trap is fear. In other words, if we fear something strongly enough, the fear itself becomes a trap. Inflation of the ego is a multi-edged sword. It is something that we can fall into because we desire our goals too strongly, or it is something we can fall into because we fear the inflation, or something else, too strongly.
After looking at my own experiences I decided that while the inflation was potentially harmful, I also began to realize that its arising was inevitable. There is something natural about this type of reaction that often accompanies some major change or development in one’s life. Therefore I do not think that such inflation in most cases is a tragedy. I see it more as a “problematic opportunity”. It is, I believe, primarily a process that accompanies a major life transition and in itself it can turn out to be either constructive or destructive to the overall well being of the individual, What I would like to suggest is that it is, ultimately, grist for the mill for another portion of the psycho-spiritual journey. When a person has a transcendent experience I think that he or she would be wise to start asking, “Am I developing inflation as a result of this experience?” Our best source of feedback to that question is to ask the people who know us best. Ask your spouse. Ask your close friends. Ask your colleagues. Ask your clients and students. If their feedback seems to be saying yes, then that gives us another direction in which to do our inner work. But I think it is a futile exercise to try to avoid inflation of the ego in advance. It can strike like lightning when it hits. One can know about it theoretically in advance and be forewarned, but if it strikes it will come from the unconscious, and we will still have to work with it. In the end it is just another avenue for psycho-spiritual growth in its own right, and it becomes simply one more form of grist for the mill. My impression is that Jung would certainly have agreed.
The perspective from which I would like to examine the clinical and spiritual implications of lucid dreaming is that of existential-phenomenology. This European-born philosophical perspective emphasizes a rigorous effort to understand the essence of human existence exactly as it presents itself to us in the fabric of our own lives as we live them from one day to another. As a systematic approach to understanding what it means to be a human being, including both pathological and transcendent possibilities for being human, it has also been called daseinsanalysis most notably by the controversial existence-philosopher, Martin Heidegger, and by two well-known Swiss psychiatrists who followed him, Medard Boss and Ludwig Binswanger. The concern of this approach is for preserving and appreciating the essence of being human precisely as it is given to us in human existence per se, as opposed to, for example, as it is given in theological or theoretical doctrine.
From this perspective what we always ask, first of all, is “What does it mean to be a human being?” Within the context of this answer, and with reference to our concerns in this present discussion, we then can ask “What does it mean for a human being to sleep and to dream?” In other words, the three questions which must be asked are as follows: What is it that makes a human being, a human being? What is it that makes sleeping, sleeping? What is it that makes dreaming, dreaming? Having answered these questions we can then follow with the suggestion that any human endeavor which threatens or endangers the essential structure or meaningful nature of these “things” - of being human, of sleeping and of dreaming - must be viewed with some suspicion and exercised with considerable caution- Obviously we are not going to be able to answer all of these questions, much less identify the implications of these answers, in the short time we have today so we will have to settle with making a few comments, keeping the systematic pursuit of these problems for another occasion.
Given our limited time here, therefore, would like to focus particularly on the essential structure of human dreaming existence and on the implications of the study and practice of lucid dreaming for this unique mode of being human. Dreaming is, most essentially, a manner of existing which is taken up while we are asleep and which “overcomes” us as a spontaneous, precipitant and compelling openness to being in the world. It is a way of being conscious, of being “lit up,” if you will, of “Being-light,” into which we are thrown. Suddenly in the dark, still night we are unceremoniously cast into an illuminated witnessing which is not of our own choosing, which is given to us apparently independent of personal desire, intention or reason. Given this understanding of dreaming what then is the best manner for developing a knowledge of this unique manner of being in the world.
Clearly as human beings we always have the possibility for simply participating in our existence as it is given to us in either waking or dreaming. Naturally, we also have the possibility, which is crucial for lucid dreaming, for observing our participation, for being deliberately aware of the event of our conscious participation in life even as it happens. But in this latter possibility we are no longer “merely conscious” but rather we are, to some degree, “objectively conscious”. That is, we are establishing a distance, while in the very throes of experience between ourselves and our raw, unadulterated participation in life as such. In other words we are, to a certain extent, making an object of our conscious participation in our own existence. Naturally, with this possibility we are also given the possibility either for “letting things be” or for predicting and controlling the happening as which we exist.
This latter set of possibilities for objectification, prediction and control is what enables us to carry out scientific and technological projects, the project of the study and application of lucid dreaming being one of these. But we definitely always have both kinds of possibilities: our existential possibilities for simply being in the world and our more narrowly defined technological possibilities for objectifying, predicting and controlling personal and/or worldly events. The fact that we have these two different kinds of human possibilities, the latter being naturally subsumed as only one category of the former, presents no problem in itself. However, it can become problematic if we fall prey to the assumption that objectification, prediction and control are our most important manners of soliciting knowledge or of caring for things. With lucid dreaming this would mean that our dreams could become objects for the same kind of disregard that we have witnessed in many of our national forests, for example. Indeed, as I have said before, dreaming is one of the few remaining natural wilderness areas of human behavior. Our challenge is to learn how we might best acquire and use our knowledge of this human territory and do so in a way that respects and conserves the essential nature and structure of dreaming as precipitant unpremeditated experience.
What is at stake?
With regard to sleeping there are two human possibilities at stake. One is the possibility of the significance of sleep as rest, as a way of “turning out the lights.” Sleep is a human being’s most intimate and immanent Sabbath, his or her own most hour of rest, relief, restoration, rejuvenation. When we are involved with dreaming “projects,” however, particularly with lucid dreaming projects, we never “turn out the lights,” we deny ourselves this most natural Sabbath of body and soul. Another possibility of sleep which is at stake in lucid dream study is the significance of sleep as “losing control” or as “letting go.’ The original word for sleep actually means “hanging,” “falling,” “flabbiness,” “looseness.” We say we “fall” asleep for good reason: it fits the essential structure of sleep. If you have observed yourself going to sleep you may even have noticed (though surely the psychophysiological study of sleep also shows this) that your jaw can fall open, that your body can suddenly “let go” of or “lose” its muscle tone. It is this very “letting go,” this very “losing of control” which is threatened by the study of lucid dreaming where, at times, it seems if the entire object of the investigation is to demonstrate just how much control we may have over what was previously believed (at least in the mind of the so-called typical common-sense oriented westerner) to be beyond our control.
While I do not want to minimize this more ethical and philosophical concern that the study of lucid dreaming is a potential (though admittedly small and distant) threat to the essential nature of human sleeping, I do want to emphasize that these are not purely abstract ruminations. I believe there is a potentially significant clinical and pragmatic danger as well. For example, I was recently speaking with a new colleague who, when she learned of my interest in the study of dreams, spontaneously mentioned that she had had a rather disturbing experience a few weeks previous to our conversation. She told me that she had read Stephen LaBerge’s book, Lucid Dreaming, and, without any further preparation or support, had decided to do some lucid dream work with her own dreams. She said that this had been an extremely disruptive experience in her life in which she felt there was “no resting.” Her experimentation went on for approximately three weeks at which time she decided, in her own best interest, to terminate the project. She described this period as follows: “It was horrible. I no longer could get a whole night of good, uninterrupted sleep. I was feeling uneasy. The value of sleep was determined by my dreams, by remembering dreams and by accomplishing things in dreams. Sleep became a place to achieve something, to accomplish something and not a place to rest.” Now, while this is admittedly “only” the experience of one person, it still is the experience of one person and, therefore, a potential danger of which we must remain aware. Fortunately the person who spontaneously offered this anecdote is a relatively aware and resourceful individual. We would be well advised, therefore, to give serious thought to what might be the potential hazards of such unsupervised experimentation, especially for those who are psychologically less “well-endowed.” I don’t pretend to have the answers to these particular questions but merely wish to suggest an alertness to these potential pitfalls on the part of those who are studying lucid dreaming,
Now, with regard to dreaming, there are also at least two human possibilities at stake in the study and application of lucid dreaming. The first of these is the possibility of dreaming as precipitant, unpremeditated experience. There are very few opportunities we have in the course of our lives to have our existence completely thrown at us, to have life explode around us, to be unexpectedly tossed plumb in the middle of an entirely uncontrolled cosmetic event. We can call this being cast into the world our “thrownness.” And yet this thrownness is only one of two fundamental characteristics of human existence of which we become aware when we think about what it means to be a human being. In addition to our thrownness there is, in every moment of our existing, our project, our projecting ourselves back in response to the world into which we have been thrown, that is, our responding to the world by answering in the form of thoughts, feelings and behaviors. So there is our thrownness, our being cast into the world, and there is our project, our response to that into which we have been thrown. While every moment of human existence has these two fundamental characteristics, dreaming is a mode of existing that emphasizes thrownness. Our dreaming consistently reveals this characteristic thrownness of human existence, allows us really to see the extent to which we are, in both dreaming and waking, cast out into a world which is not, most basically, of our own choosing. However, the deliberate premeditated study and application of lucid dreaming often attempts to undo this unique characteristic of dreaming experience by turning the thrownness of dreaming into a project, thus diminishing such fundamental characteristics of sleeping and dreaming as falling, being out of control, or being thrown. Naturally there is nothing at all wrong with the learning value of projecting ourselves within our dreaming but if this characteristic of human existence is overemphasized and pursued to the exclusion of perceiving and understanding our fundamental thrownness then our dreaming, as we have known it, may be threatened with extinction. The likelihood of this happening is extremely slight even in a single individual and certainly much less in the species as a whole. Never-the-less these are the kinds of potential outcomes to which one might want to attend if one sees oneself at all as a conservationist of human nature.
The second human possibility or human capability which is at stake with regard to dreaming is actually more serious and more urgent from a clinical point of view. What is often endangered in the study and application of lucid dreaming is the prior and more fundamental task of understanding the meaningfulness of dreams and, thereby, of coming to terms with just how things stand for us in our lives. Courageously understanding the meaningfulness of our dreaming existence involves nothing less than our own private confrontation with Truth. When lucid dreaming is taken up at the expense of such truth finding then we are undermining an extremely valuable resource for self understanding and development. I see we are almost out of time but, again, let me offer one brief clinical anecdote to underscore the importance of this issue.
A high school psychology teacher, who had taught a unit on dreams, including the recent study of lucid dreams, had a sixteen-year-old female student who reported that she had had a dream about her father. In the dream her father was the captain of a ship which was in great danger of sinking in the middle of a storm. The dreamer was standing on the shore watching her father out at sea with waves battering the ship from every direction. Oddly, the father was standing in the bow of the ship, directing its course while completely oblivious to the seriousness of the storm and to the facts that the ship was about to sink and that he would drown. The dreamer was at first terrified but then, having recently studied lucid dreams, she suddenly realized that she was dreaming. Then she also realized that she could simply calm the storm, which she did and then woke up feeling just great. She was still euphoric when she told the story to her psychology teacher who responded with almost equal enthusiasm. When the teacher told me this story, however, I expressed my appreciation for this student’s new found sense of competence and effectiveness in her dreams but then asked some further questions about her situation. Very soon it was revealed that she was a fine, very responsible student and person (almost excessively so) but that her father was a pretty heavy drinker, “probably even alcoholic” as the teacher added. Suddenly the import of this dream from a clinical point of view is far more serious. While the young person was permitted through her lucidity to gain an increased sense of her own competence, it should be asked if this was really necessary or even helpful in this case? Clearly neither she nor her teacher had dealt with the obvious dream danger to her father and its implications for both his and her waking existence. Nor certainly did either of them deal with the fact that this youth feels entirely responsible for rescuing the father while dreaming (a terrible burden, even when successful) and with what this might reveal or imply for her waking life. Surely we are now aware of what a typical and crippling pattern such rescuing and enabling is for children of alcoholics, a pattern which can persist and wreak havoc well into a person’s adult life. Unfortunately, in this case, it seems that this young person’s experience with lucidity was used to bolster her defenses against the awareness of these painful but important to see truths. The short term pleasure of lucidity and control in this instance came at the expense of essential, albeit disquieting, knowledge and self understanding.
I would like to say a few words about each of the statements made here. First of all, I very much agree with what Harry said about the problem of confusing self-pathology and emotionality with spirituality. This is certainly something that can happen with lucid dreaming as much as with anything else somebody follows believing it to be a spiritual path and this can be a source of a great deal of confusion. That is something we have to watch out for, certainly. With Jayne, I agree that amongst us in the lucid dreaming field there is general agreement.
I wish had time to deal with the specifics of everything Alan said here, but I would like to clarify a few points that bore on what Alan seems to think I have said. I want to clarify what I said about the relationship between lucid dreaming, ordinary dreaming, ordinary wakefulness as you are experiencing more or less now, and something that might be called enlightenment. I never have said, and I do not believe, that lucid dreaming is equivalent to enlightenment. I don’t regard lucid dreaming as intrinsically spiritual in any way. It is something that could be used for spiritual purposes perhaps, but I do not regard it as a spiritual state. What I said in my book was that the experience of lucid dreaming is something that can show you how you could have another kind of awareness than the one you’ve got right now. In your ordinary dream state you think you are awake. You think this is real life. Then you get this new kind of awareness that radically transforms your experience, something added onto your normal level of consciousness in dreams. This new awareness is merely something that shows you how there could be something else beyond what we normally perceive in waking life. It doesn’t say what that something else may be, and I do not intend to imply that it does. I also agree that lucid dreaming does not necessarily lead to growth, especially not right away. There are pitfalls. You can get stuck with lucid dreaming, making the wrong turns in that as well as any kind of dream work.
We should put into perspective all these concerns we may have about lucid dreaming in the context of similar concerns we ought to have about any dreamwork, especially dreamwork involving interpretation. We can have a whole symposium on the problems involved with interpreting our experience. I’m not sure that that’s always the useful or valid thing to do, but that is not my concern. We haven’t enough time.
As far as saying we should put warnings on lucid dreaming equivalent to cigarette warnings, let me show you the big difference. There is very strong evidence that smoking kills you. There is plenty of evidence on that. The only reason cigarettes are on the market is because of interests making money. However, we do not have anything like that kind of evidence for lucid dreaming being dangerous. I will agree that there are certainly people for which it could be dangerous. For those same people--anything will be dangerous. So I feel it is overstating the case to suggest we should put such a warning on lucid dreams. Moreover, I think you are likely to create more problems by telling people, “Now watch out because you could have problems with this.”
I shall move on. I agree with Ken’s emphasis on the importance of inflation, however, I would suggest another means of dealing with it. I dealt with this in my book where I presented an example of experiences I had in which I decided I was inflated. It was easy enough to realize this was so by reflecting when I woke up, “Well, how was I acting in that dream?” I was Superman, and I was telling everybody what to do, and it was clear to me that there was something wrong about the feeling aroused by behaving in this manner. I don’t regard inflation as a problem that has to continue. It is something that when you see it happen, you can correct your approach, and say, “Well, I’m not treating the other characters in the dream with respect, and not treating them on a level equal with me,” and alter your approach accordingly.
Finally, regarding some of the comments that Eric made - I think he was mainly concerned with losing two aspects of dreaming with lucidity. One was the meaning of dreams, and the second was the spontaneity of them. As far as the meaning of dreams, you can interpret lucid dreams just as much as you can non-lucid dreams. People tend to overemphasize their ideas about how deliberate lucid dreams are. Lucid dreamers are not constantly deliberately deciding the actions and events of the dream. It is not like that at all. In reality, there are moments in the lucid dream where you make choices that you may not make if you weren’t lucid. More typically, however, in a lucid dream you are constantly responding to what comes up in the dream, and the unconscious mind is actually always bringing up new material that you have to deal with. So by no means is even a majority of a lucid dream being controlled. It is a much smaller piece than people would think. The same point applied to spontaneity is that there is plenty of room for spontaneity in a lucid dream. I see the question as more of one of flexibility. Being conscious allows you to be more flexible than not being conscious. Now spontaneity is part of flexibility. Now, if I can give an example of this: One of my lucid dreams that I have told many times--the one about the ogre where I realized I was dreaming and stopped struggling and then embraced him with love--illustrated the relative role of lucidity, because there is one point in there that I became lucid. I knew, “This is dreaming,” and I felt, “I’m going wrong. This is the wrong choice of action,” And then I changed my direction and said instead, “I’m going to go with the dream, I’m going to embrace this monster.” Then the rest of what happened in it was totally spontaneous. I don’t even remember what words I said. They just flowed out intuitively, because it is a matter of using lucidity at choice points, not continuously manipulating the dream. You need to have a light grasp on the dream. It is like saying, “Well, what is the best reaction I could have to this situation here.”
People can use lucid dreaming to avoid problems. They will fly away when they realize, “I’m dreaming, so I can get out of this situation and fly away.” But this tendency is also very easily corrected. As I did for myself. I had some dreams like that, but when I woke up I realized, “That’s stupid. Why should I want to fly away from my problems?” Instead I resolved that anytime I have a lucid dream, I’m going to look and see, is there any problem? If so, I’ll face it. Is there any conflict I can resolve? I stopped flying away just by having that one reflection in the waking state,
[EDITORS NOTE: The panel chair then asked Charles Alexander, of TM’s Maharishi
International University, to come forward in order to reply to Moffitt’s comments about
Alexander’s work and the TM-Sidhi program. Alexander’s collaborator, Jayne
Gackenbach, offered to reply because Alexander was unable to be present.]
This is an awkward position to be in, trying to speak for someone else [Charles “Skip” Alexander of Maharishi International University(MIU)]. Under most circumstances I wouldn’t. I knew about Alan’s feelings towards TM. We’ve talked about this for several years. One of the things that has hit me over and over again about my relationship with colleagues at the Maharishi International University is the misunderstandings about the Transcendental Meditation movement I have found among my scientist colleagues. I try to be reasonably critical and objective. However, I feel that there is considerable scientific as well as personal quality at MIU.
As to Alan’s first point, Skip and I have attempted to distinguish between dream lucidity and the phenomenon of witnessing. He has always felt reluctant to make claims about the developmental status of lucidity. However, Skip and I do feel that the stabilization of witnessing represents, according to standard developmental criteria, a more developed or “higher” stage. This perspective is not meant to imply that some people are better than others. Skip has edited the forthcoming Higher Stages of Human Development: Perspectives on Adult Growth from Oxford University Press. In the final chapter he details ten criteria for a major qualitative advance in adulthood and presents at length on conceptual and empirical grounds why the stabilized phenomena of witnessing represents a higher stage of human development, beyond ordinary conceptual thought.
Now I shall address Alan’s concerns about the TM-Sidhi program. As I understand it, the reason for the push on the Sidhi’s program is that the Sidhi’s program is the major source of the Maharishi Effect. The Maharishi Effect is a theory which states that when a critical mass of the population meditates together using especially the Sidhi’s techniques that the result is an increase in the quality of all of our lives. I recognize that sounds incredible. A more detailed explanation of the phenomenon is given by Robert Keith Wallace. John Fagan and David Pasco in a 1988 (2(1)) issue of Modern Science, Vedic Science (for a more detailed explanation than what follows see Orme-Johnson and Dillbecks article in Vol. 1, No. 2, 1987 issue of Modern Science, Vedic Science):
From the perspective of Maharishi’s Vedic Science, this state of ideal balance [of mind, body, and environment] is created by connecting the individual to the unified field of natural law in such a way that the state of perfect balance which maintains natural law is lively not only in the different homeostatic systems of the individual’s body but also in those of the social environment. The ultimate result of this process is to create ideal health for society.
In considering these mechanics we must first ask the question: is there a field of collective consciousness that underlies the orderliness and coherence of social behavior? [In 1976] Maharishi described the relationship between individual and collective consciousness:
Just as the consciousness of an individual determines the quality of his thought and behavior, so also there exists another type of consciousness for a society as a whole; a collective consciousness for each family, city, state, or nation, having its own reality and the possibility of growth. The quality of the collective consciousness of a society is a direct and sensitive reflection of the level of consciousness of its individual members.
Similar concepts of a collective consciousness underlying and influencing the structure of society have also been expressed by many great thinkers in the past. Collective consciousness, however, has never been studied in a serious scientific manner precisely because it could neither be isolated nor systematically experienced. The most sophisticated sociological theories at best give a vague description of a social field as an interlocking network of social and behavioral interactions within specific economic and environmental conditions.
With Maharishi’s development of the Technology of the Unified Field, these ambiguities have been removed and the concept of a collective consciousness can and is being tested. The theory states that the collective consciousness of a society is more than the sum total of social interactions; it is a more fundamental reality. The underlying nature of collective consciousness, according to Maharishi, is the field of pure of consciousness, the unified field of natural law.
If such a field of consciousness exists, it should be possible to test it by measuring its field properties. Certain physical systems (e.g.. lasers) exhibit properties such that if there is a subpopulation of a small number of coherent elements then the system undergoes a phase transition and begins to display macroscopic coherence, i.e., measurable coherence of the system as a whole. Applying this principle to society we might predict that if consciousness is indeed a field, a small coherent subpopulation of individuals could generate a more widespread coherent influence on the whole of society. This coherent influence could then be measured by changes in specific social indices, such as crime rate, economic indices, hospital admissions, and accidental rates. This approach has been undertaken in a number of studies.
Maharishi predicted a number of years ago that when as few as 1% of the population of a society practiced the TM program, a measurable improvement, such as a decrease in crime rate, would occur in the quality of life of that society. This effect has been observed in a number of different studies conducted in populations of various sizes. For example, in one study by Dillbeck, Landrith, and Orme-Johnson, crime rate trend in 48 different cities was analyzed over a 12-year period. The 24 experimental cities, defined by having 1% of the population practicing the TM program, showed a significant decrease in crime rate trend as compared to 24 control cities randomly selected from matched cities with similar economic, educational, and other demographic characteristics. This decrease in crime rate trend in the “one percent” cities has been shown to be independent of such factors as police coverage, unemployment, prior crime trend, difference in age composition, and ethnic background. This field effect has been appropriately called the Maharishi Effect.
An even more powerful effect has been noted with the “group dynamics of consciousness,” the group practice of the TM and TM-Sidhi program, This effect, known as the Extended Maharishi Effect, or Super Radiance Effect, requires only the square root of 1% of a population practicing the TM-Sidhi program in groups to produce measurable effects such as reduction of violence and increased economic prosperity. Over 30 studies have documented the effectiveness of the Maharishi and Extended Maharishi Effect in improving the quality of life in numerous cities around the world [and even on a national and international scale]. The results of these studies cannot be accounted for unless one considers consciousness to be a field which is capable of transmitting effects over long distances. The discovery of these effects is of fundamental importance since it has profound implications for all areas of life. More than any underlying field of pure consciousness which can be directly experienced and influenced by the human nervous system (p. 46-47).
Two especially provocative recent time-series analytic studies suggest that during periods of large group practice of the TM-Sidhi program over a 2 1/4year period, there were dramatic reductions in armed conflict (e.g., 71% reduction in war deaths) and increases in cooperative events in the war in Lebanon. One of these studies by Orme Johnson, Alexander, Davis et al. is appearing in the December 1988 issue of The Journal of Conflict Resolution,
Does this theory and its implications justify practice of the Sidhis and efforts to make it’s potential efficacy widely known to the public? I feel it does. But that is a question I cannot answer for anyone else. I can only provide the information.
Questions and Answers
The floor is now open to you for either questions to direct individually or collectively, or comments you may want to make.
Q: I want to direct this to Steve, to the extent that lucidity resembles a waking function or an uptake of awaking function, why would you expect the analogous situation? That is the lucidity experience during the waking state? Why wouldn’t you expect that analogous situation to be an increase in dream content in the waking state?
LABERGE: Well, it sounds like you’re being rabidly Jungian in your compensatory view of the relationship between dreaming and the waking state. If I believe that there is some relationship such as lucid dreaming is to non-lucid dreaming as enlightenment is to the waking state (in some respect). I am drawing an analogy of some kind. I’m not saying it is identical. That would suggest, by the way if that were true, that I’m claiming that lucid dreaming is enlightened dreaming. I don’t say that. It is obviously more enlightened, with a small “e”, than the usual kind of deluded dreaming where you believe things are happening that are not happening, or have different meanings--you believe it is literally happening in the physical world. So I believe there is a certain kind of “enlightenment”. Now I do not suggest that it is even the same kind of enlightenment in the waking state. I don’t really see any reason why one would expect more of dream content in the waking state, but I would say the one similarity is that my understanding of Enlightenment, with a big “E”, is that it involves having a broader context, at least some other frame to put on experience. And that is what lucid dreaming does: it adds a new context, the observer level that stands outside the whole dream. It somehow says “Here I am. I’m in this dream, but this whole dream is in me too.” And that gives it a perspective. Skip [Charles Alexander] was talking about the extreme case of that where one observes, and one sees it all happening down there.
Q: I agree. Alan very much with what you said, at least some of it. I think it would be better if we were very careful with the semantics. The idea of higher and lower I turns me off as well. In order to give up inflation of the ego, I think it would be better if we gave up the concept of ego. Why do you have to have the concept of ego? Why don’t you just enjoy what you’re living.
KELZER: The question was, in order to give up inflation of the ego, why don’t we just give up the concept of ego? I certainly support joyful living. I think that joyful living and lucid dreaming are paths that people can pursue simultaneously. In order to give up inflation of the ego a person has to give up not so much the concept of the ego, but one’s identification with the ego. One can retain the concept of the ego but still dis-identify oneself from an ego identity. Furthermore, if we really think we “can give up the concept of ego” we are deluding ourselves. We cannot give up (refuse to think about or face) the concept of ego any more than we can give up the concept of sand, airplanes, evil, or any other concept. I think this question contains an implicit fallacy, an impossible expectation, or simple misunderstanding.
I would like to say something about the concept of whether or not it is appropriate to talk about lucidity as a form of enlightenment, either metaphorically or literally. I think we have a tremendous problem here, in that we are failing into an unquestioned assumption. We are assuming that dream lucidity is a uniform phenomenon, that lucidity equals lucidity equals lucidity equals lucidity as we examine one lucid dream after another. What I think we need to remember is that in every lucid dream there will be varying degrees of lucidity. I think we need to attempt to measure these degrees of lucidity in some way. I think at some point we are going to need some collective understanding that a “highly lucid,” lucid dream is distinct from an average lucid dream. This takes us into the framework of high and low, but if you do not like that framework, we can switch to another. We can talk about it instead using an expansion framework, and we can say that some lucid dreams are more expanded than others. We can then describe the differences between various lucid dreams in that way. We can talk about this range of lucidity using the high or low metaphor if we wish, or we can talk about it using a horizontal, expansion metaphor if we wish. There are many different metaphors available in our attempt to describe the phenomenon, but we need to remember that we are not dealing with a uniform phenomenon. There is a tremendous range to the lucidity scale in lucid dreams.
Q:Alan, you quite clearly set which way the lucid dreaming research shouldn’t go. According to you, what way should it go or shouldn’t it go on?
MOFFITT: Thank you for that question. The short answer is that I don’t know, I have some ideas about that, and I have some ideas about where I think lucidity does fit in as a developmentally emergent phenomenon. I will be talking about some of those in greater detail on Saturday. But what I will be saying on Saturday is speculative. The more I get into this, the more I have questions rather than answers. I don’t want to be a purist.
When we got into this business, we started talking about high and low frequency dream recallers. Sometimes when I talk about them I still do that. It is real easy to slip an evaluation framework into what you are talking about. My assumption was that people who dream frequently are closer to something that’s really good, like bliss and enlightenment. I assumed as I think a lot of other people did, that if you didn’t dream so much that wasn’t so good. So we talked about low dream recallers and high dream recallers, and dropped out the word “frequency.” So “low” instead of becoming a term that refers to a number--which is clear and there is very little value implication in that--low becomes a place in space, or a place on a hierarchy, or a place on a movement towards continuum. The only thing I can say is I think we should be really careful about that kind of terminology with lucidity.
I think lucidity is at the very core of a whole bunch of really important developmental phenomena, but because it is that core it is an incredibly powerful phenomenon. One of the things that can happen to an individual when they experience lucidity is that they come upon an experience, which as I understand is the Tibetan Buddhists’ view of what lucidity is about, of the radical impermanence of self and ego. I’m not even sure that the lucidity that Steve is talking about in his book has anything to do with Tibetan Buddhism at all. The source and origin of the dream yoga in Tibetan Buddhism is in the context of the six yogas of Naropa. You don’t do one, you do all six, first. Second, when you practice the dream yoga, awareness is throughout the sleep cycle, not just during dreams. So in that sense lucidity becomes more like witnessing. You do the three hours or more of Dumo meditation before you do the lucidity procedure Dumo meditation is a heat induction meditation. You are tested by how well you do the Dumo meditation by how many ice cold rags you can dry on the back of your back
This all suggests to me that the process of waking and sleeping and the induction of lucidity, in the context of Tibetan culture, is very much different than the kind of stuff that we’re talking about here. In my own personal opinion, I’m not convinced at all that there is any similarity. I think I know what the Tibetans are on about when they are talking about lucidity, just because I read some of their texts. It is a preparation for death. The reason you practice lucid dreaming isn’t to understand that everything is illusory--that’s part of the trip--but the intuition of the radical impermanence of the self is primary. When I hear Steve say you get in touch with your true, your deep self--who’s that? I admit that people use that kind of language, but I’m sorry I don’t know what that is. I’m unenlightened. I don’t have any trouble saying that, and I don’t really know who I am deep inside when I get in touch with my true self, Maybe I should enroll in therapy. I don’t mean to be disparaging of that other point of view. The reason I understand that the Tibetan Buddhists do it is that when you die and you go into something called the Bardo state, then lucidity is useful in that state because it serves in a process of reincarnation. Now I don’t know whether you folks want to buy that or not. That is one of the places that lucidity can go in terms of the Tibetan framework. I don’t know whether there is any analogy between what Steve is talking about at all and what he experiences and the Tibetan context. I’m not sure what kind of stuff goes in the North American context.
JILL GREGORY: This is for Eric Craig. I just wanted to bring up a small point about feeling thrown in non-lucid dreams versus being less thrown in a lucid dream. I would like to say that very often in my lucid dreams I am much more thrown. I let the dream experience go in deeper, more profoundly it moves through me. I’m more open and vulnerable to the moment, and I don’t know what’s coming. In a way I know a little bit what it’s about but how intense it will be I don’t know. So I disagree that there really is a distinction and that lucidity is necessarily less thrown.
ERIC SNYDER: This is for Ken Kelzer. I attended a lecture of yours several years ago, so you can correct me if you’ve changed your point of view. At that time you inferred that lucid dreaming, your development of it, was learning to manipulate your dreams consciously, to change the content, and, at that time, that lucid dreaming is the next stage of evolutionary development for human beings and that enlightenment for you was what I assumed to he the ability to manipulate your physical waking reality. Maybe I misunderstood it, but I got the impression that it was kind of a superman mentality, this idea that we could change our physical reality the same way we could manipulate a dream. I was wondering if you could comment on that?
KELZER: I think you misunderstood my earlier lecture, I believed then, and still hold now, that there is a certain degree of value in learning to direct or manipulate the dream scenario in lucid dreams. But this process is, in my overall view of things, only one basic and elementary step toward personal improvement. It is not, by any means, the most important aspect of lucid dreamwork evolution but is only one, initial, elementary skill or developmental task. Once lucid dreamers become proficient at this task, most will probably move on to the more inspiring aspects of pyscho-spiritual development.
From my own experience the first time I became lucid, one of the things I did was mentally command a house to turn into a tree. I accomplished that in that first lucid dream. A week later I had another lucid dream in which I commanded a tree to turn into a rabbit, and that was accomplished. After awhile I began to become somewhat disinterested with that particular aspect of lucid dreaming, but I do not regret that I had those experiences. I think they constitute one step in a long, evolutionary process. Now, I am more interested at this point in my evolution, in going with the flow of a lucid dream than in using my conscious thoughts to direct the dream scenario. And I think this whole process is an interesting experiment with personal power.
When applying these concepts to the waking state, I was not so much talking about myself as a superman but as a growing, conscious being. Looking to the Christian tradition for example, if the Christ could manifest on the physical plane with the power of his thoughts, if that story is accurate and true (and we can’t know for sure since it happened 2000 years ago), if extraordinary human beings at some stage in their development have the power to use their thoughts to manifest on the physical plane and perform what we ordinarily call miracles, and if we are all developing psycho-spiritually, then we ourselves must all be evolving in that overall growth model very slowly, very deliberately toward our own Christ consciousness or cosmic consciousness, it may take thousands of lifetimes for you and me to reach the stage of Christ consciousness, I do not care how long it takes. What is exciting to me now is the realization that evolution is part of what it means to me to be human. Lucid dreams provide a fascinating opportunity to practice and accelerate this conscious evolution, because if you can use your thoughts to create the dream scenario and receive a desired and chosen manifestation in return, then this has got to be a part of that overall evolution. At this point in my own life, I am not only using lucid dreams as a context for conscious manifestation, I am also using my conscious thoughts to practice manifesting on the physical realm. However, the difference between me and the Christ is that he could perform the most advanced manifestations in a few seconds, whereas it may take me a few years to perform even simple manifestations. So if I set for myself a physical goal of some kind, such as raising my income, changing the course of my career, or authoring a second book, and if I begin to visualize these goals consistently while practicing appropriate psycho spiritual disciplines, I may be able to manifest these goals within two to three years. I recognize that there definitely is a time frame involved here, and that one of the key differences between a spiritual master and a novice is the length of time involved in performing physical manifestations. I hope that ties it together for you.
Q: I’d like to make a comment on something I heard in some of Eric Craig’s comments and some of the response that I’ve heard to it. I remember hearing something about the possibility of losing the meaning in dreams, and hearing what sounds like the idea that we do not always interpret lucid dreams. My sense from running into a lot of people who are excited about lucid dreams is not necessarily that the dream can’t be interpreted but that the person tends to say, “Wow, this was a lucid dream, I made choices here that I couldn’t make otherwise in an ordinary dream. I could look back and make other choices or movements or work with that rather than interpret it.” So I’m just wondering whether for instance Eric would feel like that was understood. To me this seems like a whole area of discussion. I would almost love to see a lot more time given to it, because I do feel like there is a whole question about what can be done either with lucid dreams or other dreams, and what happens particularly in the public consciousness.
CRAIG: I’m always pleased to hear when lucidity is used to enable a more profound and truthful understanding of an individual’s own personality and of the world in which he or she lives. There should be more of an emphasis on this aspect of dreaming within the rapidly growing body of lucid dream literature. I wish there were much more of an emphasis, actually, on the meaningfulness of dreams, on respecting the dreamt things themselves and I would like to see more of this work demonstrated by people such as yourself. Lucidity and understanding are not necessarily exclusive, as you and Stephen have pointed out, but often it turns out that way.
One more point I’d like to make is the sense that there is a bit of a disparaging attitude toward so-called “normal dreaming” on the part of those involved with lucid dreaming. For example, Stephen you just said that people are “deluded” in their normal dreams, that this is not the real world. This is a huge question you are raising having to do with the nature and meaning of “reality.” Now maybe my point of view is different from yours, but I don’t think we can blindly assume that the dream world is not real. How is it any less real than this world we are participating in right now? This points to the kind of philosophical thinking and research that is sorely needed among those involved in the study of lucid dreaming.
LABERGE: I’ve never suggested that the dream world is not experientially real. Of course it is. An experience is an experience. When I say that people are deluded in ordinary dreams, it is when you wake up and think, “Well I thought that was happening,” when it wasn’t happening in the way that we thought. Because your model of the non-lucid dream is you think it is physical reality. That is the way you’re deluded, not because you are tricked by floating in a false world, an unreal world. That’s because you’ve got the wrong world. We think, for example, there is gravity in that world, and there isn’t any. That is the point of being deluded. You’ve got the wrong world. You think that you are in the world when you are not.
Q: That is a very materialistic definition.
LABERGE: Which definition?
Q: The definition that the person wakes up and they thought the physical world was there, while they were dreaming. That is a materialistic definition of reality. That world was there. It doesn’t make any difference if it’s still there once they wake up.
A Discussion Between Charles Tart and Lucidity Letter Editor, Jayne Gackenbach, Examining Similarities Between Dream Lucidity, Witnessing and Self-Remembering
EDITOR: In a recent review of your book Waking Up, John Wren-Lewis said it was very relevant to those interested in lucid dreaming.
TART: I was very honored that he would say that it is must reading for people who are into lucid dreams since lucid dreaming is mentioned only once in the book. You see, lucid dreaming is the topic of greatest interest to me nowadays.
Some spiritual traditions use an analogy that we live in a dream. In many dreams, you get pushed around by events. You’re not very smart. You don’t remember important, relevant knowledge. You’re inconsistent. You don’t call on all your resources. You get in these terrible situations, but then you wake up! Not only does the dream problem disappear, but you’re so much smarter by comparison. Smarter from the point of view of the waking state, right?
Now some spiritual traditions have used this as an analogy. They say that in our waking state (where we think we’re so smart and intelligent), we’re just as stupid in ordinary waking compared to what could be. So that, in a sense, there’s a kind of lucidity that can happen in ordinary waking. My Waking Up book is really about lucid waking; that would have been a good title for it.
EDITOR: What’s your dream recall like these days?
TART: I’ve given my unconscious the instruction, “If it’s important, please make me remember it.” Otherwise, there are other things I’m more interested in. I used to be an extremely high recaller. I used to wake up, and if I bothered to write my dreams down, I’d spend an hour a morning at it! Now I typically recall part of a dream on waking. I scan it quickly to see if there’s some kind of message or something exciting: if not, I let it go. Lucid waking is much more important to me than the lucid dreaming.
EDITOR: As I understand the Ouspensky-Gurdjieff material, upon which your book is based, there’s essentially an asking of the critical question, a self-reflectiveness, an attempt, purposely, to reflect on what you’re saying and doing as much as possible through the day.
TART: It’s not usually expressed as a question, but if you did, it would be asking yourself something like: what am I doing right now, what am I feeling right now, what am I perceiving right now, what’s my state right now? There’d be variations on that question. You could do it that way, but it’s usually not done in such a verbal formulation.
EDITOR: How is it usually done?
TART: It’s an immediate shift of attention to being conscious of the normally unconscious. Once you do it, you realize that our ordinary state is that were “lost”. We don’t know what’s going on much of the time. We’re just as passive in ordinary life as we are in dreams. Events happen and our mental processes react. Buttons get pushed, to use that wonderful old sixties language and our conditioned responses occur. A set of mental scenarios begin. Normally you’re just running on automatic with these things all the time. Becoming self-reflective, you consciously see yourself doing these things. As you pay enhanced attention more and more, you begin to get an option to be present to your experience more continuously, and to both have more control and be more open to new experience.
EDITOR: Is there a distinction between being, I like the term, “present to your experience”, and the concept of “witnessing” while awake, sleeping, dreaming - twenty four hours?
TART: Witnessing is a concept I’d be very happy to use. There are a number of ways to observe yourself. Some of them are ways that are biased or have built in preferences. For example, lots of people observe themselves from their superego. Your superego has a listing of what is good and bad. It watches you and gives you a shot of anxiety when it thinks you are doing something bad. That’s a kind of witnessing, but it’s not what I’m talking about.
In the first place, superego witnessing is automated. In the second place, it’s not yours, it was conditioned into you by outside forces - society, your parents and so forth.
There’s another kind of witnessing where you look at everything from a specific point of view. For instance, you could get into some spiritual system that said, you should recite this mantra all day long and you will go to heaven or achieve bliss or something like that. So you are intellectually interpreting everything that comes in in terms of keeping the mantra as an organizing core. But you’ve still got a particular point of view.
Behavior therapy is also a kind of self-observation, usually of a rather limited sort. Write down every time you do a certain thing. It’s a very specific kind of self observation. The kind of self-remembering I’m talking about says, in the most abstract sense to be fully present to everything that happens and be fully aware of being present there.
EDITOR: So the “effort” aspect is not there?
TART: There is an effort but it’s a small effort. It’s not much of an effort to do it. The effort is to remember to do it, because what you discover is that you’re constantly swept away by phenomena. Guidjieff once put it that the idea we automatically have self consciousness must be a cruel joke played upon us. In point of fact, most of the time we are not fully conscious. I can say from my experience, unfortunately, it’s true. Most of the time there’s nobody home. Gurdjieff, put it very strongly. Were machines; we’re running on automatic. You know the East has a similar sort of idea that we live in illusion, usually that we live in samara or maya. It’s translated to mean the world isn’t real, but that’s not the con correct translation. It’s a recognition that we’re constantly filtering our experiences through an automated psychological superstructure that distorts our perceptions of reality. In that sense we live in illusion. You know the thing that really amuses me? The East has the idea that we live in a state of illusion, but western psychology has the nuts and bolts of just how we live in illusion down to a very line degree of precision. We know the ways reality is constructed, about defense mechanisms. We just don’t put it together somehow. We don’t question our idea that we’re conscious and have free will.
EDITOR: What about the new work in perception and imagery? It deals with the inner interplay at higher levels of imagery and perception - one affects the other - it’s not just that one is the other?
TART: That’s clarifying the nuts and bolts issues. The reality is that we open our eyes and look out and assume there’s a real world out there. It’s a very handy working assumption. Some stimuli hit our sense organs. Some neural impulses are produced, and we usually assume they just give us a sparkling clear representation in our mind - that we just see things as they are. But I think all psychology now makes it clear that there are all sorts of abstractive, constructive, additive processes that intervene with a realistic perception of the world.
One of the analogies that I use in the Waking Up book is that we live in a world simulator like a flight simulator. When you’re in one of those things you think you’re in the cockpit of a plane. It does all the appropriate things. We live inside our world simulator. Not only that, we love it. Not only that, we don’t know we’re in it, which is the dangerous thing. Once you get the idea that you might be distorting things, there’s an obvious moral. Pay more attention dummy! Check up on yourself! But until you get that idea, you don’t check up on yourself. You don’t make the effort to know it. I look a little more clearly. I watch my reactions while I’m looking to see if they’re distorting things.
For example, you’re making the effort to be more present to experience: you look at someone, and it’s immediately unpleasant. You notice you immediately turned away. Wait a minute, who turned away? I didn’t decide to turn away. My God I’ve got some automatic reaction when I see such and such, I automatically turn my head. Who’s running this show? Maybe you make yourself look back, and it makes you feel sick. Can you stay present, feeling sick? Can you stay present to exactly what the experience of feeling sick is like? Can you learn to stay in reality and study yourself? Watch your reactions? And eventually get back to seeing reality?
Eventually you may see that this actual person doesn’t make you sick at all, but he really reminds you of this guy who pisses you off no end. Your mind is just automatically turning anybody who’s tall into this guy, or something like that.
EDITOR: Paul Tholey has a strong viewpoint which most people in lucidity work agree with. The crucial way to obtain lucidity, he’s decided, is to ask the critical question: “Am I awake or am I asleep” While awake, force an awareness of the state, of the nature of the state. Eventually it will translate into sleeping. That’s a view we see a lot in the lucidity literature. Is this what your speaking of?
TART: I lecture on it to my students all the time, advising them to observe themselves
EDITOR: I’ve learned from people I have been working with at the Maharish: International University (MIU) that the Maharishi some 30 years ago met a few of Gurdjieff’s students in England. What he felt (I gather to some extent based on those experiences although it may be that there are be other reasons) was that the Gurdjief method was too forced. Witnessing, he feels, is a natural state of the organism. It will emerge naturally. His technique, of course, is through the practice of Transcendental Meditation. The witness will emerge at various times in the cycle of sleep, dream, waking, hypnogogic, whatever. It will naturally emerge. The problem with the other technique as he understood it, was that there was a forced element. And that’s of course exactly what Paul’s saying. Can you respond to that?
TART: There certainly is a forced element. There’s several things I could say about that. One is that Eastern teachers tend to come from cultures that have much more faith than we do. That things will just happen, right? Just say your mantra and things will eventually happen. We Westemers, we’re impatient. We don’t have that much faith and we want to make sure we do it right. So we tend to force.
Now I’m quite aware that this forcing can ruin a technique. I’ve ruined experience many times by adding a too forced quality. “Force” does something useful, but it too easily puts a tension and a constriction in there. It doesn’t need to be in the process; you can use just the right amount. One of the things I’m personally working on now is to get the “superego” as it were, out of the self-remembering process.
EDITOR: I’ve been interviewing long-term meditators who witness and I’m trying to identify to what extent is it like lucidity? It seems that an active/passive model is a pretty good one for distinguishing between them. Lucidity is basically a physically and psychologically aroused, actively involved participant. With witnessing there’s more of the predominance of the observer. It’s non-involved - almost like a movie screen. It can go either way, from lucidity to witnessing or from witnessing to lucidity. Some will argue, that lucidity is a first step to witnessing, that its a developmental sequence. I wonder, as it can flip back and forth.
TART: I’d be more inclined toward that
EDITOR: I think in fact that you can probably call witnessing, lucidity as well. Quiet lucidity versus active lucidity.
TART: Based on all the literature I’ve read and on my own experience of it, I would say that lucidity in a dream is an altered state of consciousness. Whether or not there is self-remembering in a lucid dream is an entirely separate dimension. In a lucid dream a person experiences a shift in the qualities of consciousness. So the way my mind is operating feels more like waking than sleeping, and includes factual knowledge: I’m actually in bed dreaming, still, or I remember how to operate this kind of equipment in real life so I can operate it in dreams. Lucidity brings an ordinary level of conscious knowledge into the dream, which in a sense is a higher state phenomenon. You, your ability, your freedom of operation throughout the dream world clearly goes up when it becomes lucid - when you know you’re dreaming.
Now, the kind of lucid waking I’m talking about, self-remembering, involves a big jump up from the ordinary waking state. So, you could have a lucid dream that did not involve self-remembering, but in theory (I haven’t done it and I don’t know anybody who has) someone who’s good at self-remembering could have an ordinary dream, turn it into a lucid dream, and still not be self-remembering. They could then begin to self-remember within the lucid dream itself and go up another level.
EDITOR: To paraphrase then: When you know you’re dreaming then either it follows or simultaneously you have full recall of your memories, you have volition and control at much higher level. Is that self-remembering or is self-remembering even beyond that?
TART: Self-remembering is beyond that stage. Right now, here I am in the ordinary state not doing the process of self-remembering. Here in my ordinary state I have a certain vantage point with lots of knowledge, but it’s my knowledge. My ordinary identity carries a framework, an emotional-cognitive framework, that organizes everything going on what’s important to me, what’s not important. Things are beings processed through my personality. That also happens in the lucid dream: your ordinary waking personality now becomes the processing center rather than the usual greatly “shrunken” dream personality center.
If I’m self-remembering, by contrast, when you ask me who am I, I could give you a conventional answer if I think that’s what you want to hear: all the facilities of ordinary waking consciousness are available. But the truth of who I am is that I’m not my personality anymore. It’s hard to express in words, but I am a process that can know. That process has a tremendous amount of freedom compared to my ordinary personality. It’s far more open-minded, it has far more access to possibilities.
EDITOR: Is there a sense of separateness?
TART: “Separateness” is a poor word to use for this. It’s not like I’m standing behind myself. Or that I’m “detached” in the sense of not caring about what’s going on. I may be more vividly aware of ordinary experiences than I normally am. The ordinary world becomes a little more real. But simultaneously it seems this is just a particular flux of phenomena at this time, I’m not identifying with it.
EDITOR: As I understand it that’s what my colleagues at MIU call “witnessing”. It naturally emerges as a function of meditation. This is almost identical to the kinds of things you’re saying.
TART: Possibly meditation does produce very similar results.
EDITOR: Then in sleep, and specifically in dreams, how are these states the same or different? I’m beginning to wonder if you can’t be both lucid and witnessing or self-remembering simultaneously. Or one or the other.
TART: You lost me.
EDITOR: Let me tell you about this interview I had with this mathematics professor who’s been meditating for seventeen years and has very clear experiences. I think because he’s not a behavioral scientist he’s able to communicate better. How he described it to me is how he conceptualizes the continuum from the stage lucidity to the stage of witnessing. First he saw them in developmental sequence. The first step is consciousness; you know you’re dreaming. It’s minimal lucidity as we would name it. The actor-observer roles change in the sequence. In lucidity you know you’re dreaming; the actor’s very dominant. The observers there but it’s not as dominant a role. Then, as you move into witnessing, the actor becomes more suppressed and the observer role becomes more of the dominant role.
TART: So in a paradoxical way you lose the freedom to change things that occur in lucid dreams and you let the dream run passively again?
EDITOR: Yes, the passivity is the big dynamic. Not only that but the dream begins to fade. You realize you’re dreaming - everything out there is my fantasy, is me. Everything goes very naturally. I’m not going to make it go away, but rather let it continue. You still have a self-representation of the body. That goes. You still have a representation of self but it’s not a “physical” self. Then that goes. You’re left with awareness of awareness. Then you go into that and the experiences opens again, but it is not “sensory” experiences rather it is conceptually based. So he talks about living mathematical constructs at that point.
TART: He probably goes to the world of Platonic forms. Where else, what would a mathematician’s idea of Nirvana be - Platonic forms, formulas!
EDITOR: He sees it as some kind of abstract algebra, that’s his area. It goes further. But after that I had no idea what the guy was talkin’ about.
TART: Let me distinguish two categories now in terms of self observation and self-remembering. One is what I’ve been describing to you. It’s very prominent in the Gurdjieff tradition, and the primary place it’s done, the place it’s almost exclusively done is in the midst of ordinary life. We’re being bombarded with sensory impressions, we’re socially interacting, the phone could ring, there’s lots and lots of input. Now let’s operate on a model which I find works well for a lot of things, namely that the total amount of attention available to us is fixed, but we can divide it up. Self-remembering, then, is that instead of your attention becoming all absorbed in either outside events or the internal processes triggered off by them, you keep a part of it free to observe the rest. Instead of letting a hundred percent go into being lost in phenomena, you keep, say, ten percent in self-remembering. Paradoxically, this makes the other ninety percent more vivid, but at the same time, you’re not so trapped in the particulars of experience
Now let’s look at Buddhist vipasana meditation, which I’m trying to learn to do well. In vipasana meditation you sit down in a place that’s extremely quiet compared to ordinary life. Nobody’s going to talk to you; there’s nothing you have to do. It’s a reasonably undisturbed place. You sit still. All the body stuff is greatly reduced. You just try to clearly observe whatever happens in your mind - you make no attempt to control it. There’s no good or bad thing you try for, there’s no control you exert. You just try to be clearly aware of whatever is happening. Now you’re doing something that’s much like self-remembering. But, in a sense, the “noise level” is way down, so instead of self-remembering where it’s all terribly agitated by external events, vipasana is self-remembering down here where there’s much less confusion. Thus you can begin to observe much subtler aspects of mental function. So this process, carried out from two different places, could lead to different things.
Now, let’s follow the vipasana meditation model. I may be sitting with my mind wandering (which is what usually happens, because it’s hard to do!). But then I focus for a moment, I’m paying clear attention to whatever sensations come and go in my body. There’s a line of sensations in my leg, e.g. it comes and goes. That starts to raise a thought and I see how the thought starts to rise. I watch the process but then it just fades. I’m tuning into the finer, subtler thought. Vipasana can become much deeper as your perception of a thought becomes finer and finer. It’s like you turn a microscope on your sensations, and, as you zoom and focus the microscope, the power gets higher and higher. There comes a point where, when you look at anything, it dissolves into nothing but vibrations. A friend of mine who’s a very experienced meditator describes it this way. Any sensation - a painful sensation, a pleasant sensation, whatever - he looks at closely in this vipasana way dissolves into vibration. You can then reach a kind of psychological state where all the usual objects of the world we experience, including your body and your sense of self, just become vibratory waves. A lot of people would call that a highly enlightened state.
EDITOR: But there’s still more.
TART: Yes, I don’t think that’s the only way it can go. For instance, in the Tibetan tradition of Dzogchen meditation, that kind of thing can happen in meditation, and then you intentionally destroy it because you’re getting caught up in it, which is a form of subjectivity. If you become proficient, you’re somehow able to simultaneously contact this incredibly expanded, non-verbal, holistic view of reality while being right here in the midst and flux of everyday life, being good at living everyday life. So there’s various directions you can go in.
EDITOR: I have talked about this at length with my colleagues at MIU, particularly the concept of the quiet, and the subtleties,
TART: Let me give you a view of either lucidity or witnessing. It’s a totally relative view. There’s a continuum at one extreme is which you are totally caught up in whatever’s happening. The other opposite end is that you are totally out of it. Now there are varying degrees of this. For instance, even simple animals make cognitive maps of their environment. In a sense, that’s a kind of lucidity. It may be a very mechanical kind of thing, like a conditioned response. But there’s a sense in which lucidity or witnessing, gives some perspective on experience while it’s happening. Even in ordinary consciousness we bring some perspective, some cognitive maps
Self-remembering, which I’m talking about, introduces a new dimension. Self-dimension does not mean you have some point of view that you claim is higher. It means you exercise a bit of volition to try to be totally open to whatever is happening at the moment. It’s very different from all our ordinary acts of cognition using the conceptual tools already given you.
EDITOR: So it’s passive?
TART: No no. Self-remembering is not passive. It’s definitely active in a sense that you must make a small effort to do it. It’s not automatic. It’s always a certain kind of effort. But it’s not the usual kind of effort. Usual efforts not only have force behind them, they have a direction and goal. Here the effort is simply to pay attention openly but not force it in any particular direction. I’m saying you can use “lucidity” or “witnessing” to describe any time that there are two levels in operation. You have immediate experience and another level of perspective on experience. This can be purely mechanically-operated kinds of perspectives. But there’s another kind of lucidity or witnessing whose goal is the transcendence of all concepts, all dualities, all formulations, and it involves simply an effort toward openness.
EDITOR: It’s active in the sense of doing, it’s happening, and in the sense that there’s some effort. It’s passive in the sense that, if you start to act on what you’re experiencing, you lose the experience: Mood making.
TART: Now that’s an important difference. To me, looking at it from a Gurdjieff perspective, losing it means you haven’t learned how to do it very well. There are techniques that are essentially passive-more witnessing and the universe will be revealed to you, right? And there are techniques that bring full knowledge and are not totally passive; there are times that require action by you.
EDITOR: That’s it exactly. According to my colleagues at MIU you take times when you cultivate the state through meditation, but that for most of the day you go about your business. And that hopefully this will be cultivated and there’ll always be this sort of self-remembering or witness perspective. It’ll emerge from time to time.
TART: is it supposed to happen by itself as a result of your meditation periods?
EDITOR: Yes, you don’t force it.
TART: This is a traditional model, but I don’t think it is completely adequate. Let me illustrate. Recently I was in a Buddhist group meeting and a woman there was complaining that after she’d been to a retreat for a couple of weeks, where she’d been so mindful, that it all faded within a few hours of going home! She just couldn’t be mindful at home. That’s a very common experience. Now the traditions usually say just keep up your meditation mindfulness practice, do your sitting every day and eventually it will start to transfer. Indeed, all of them admonish you to transfer it to everyday life, but, the classic Eastern traditions that I know actually don’t have much in the way of skillful means for transferring mindfulness to everyday life. They don’t have much technology for how do you do it. The Gurdjieff tradition, on the other hand, by and large doesn’t teach people passive sitting meditation. It starts you right off practicing mindfulness in the midst of life. So I’m writing a paper1 comparing these two traditions and suggesting some ways to take this mindfulness and start practicing it in situations closer to ordinary life. Then it’ll transfer to the everyday life we lead - it will give us “lucid waking”.
1 in press, Journal of Humanistic Psychology
by Marie-Jean-Leoa Lecog, le Marquis d’Hervey-Saint-Denys1
C.M. den Blanken and E.J.G. Miejer2
Utrecht, The Netherlands
In 1867, Librairie d’Amyot at Paris published a book entitled Les Rêves a 1es Moyens de les Diriger; Observations pratiques (1) ( transl.: Dreams and the Ways to Direct Them; Practical Observations.) Henceforth we will refer to it as Les Rêves. Originally the work appeared anonymously but eventually it authorship was attributed to the famous French scientist, le Marquis d’Hervey-Saint-Denys. With its publication, for the first time in Western history, a detailed personal report on lucid dreaming over a period of 32 year period was available. Among other things, St. Denys describes his interest in dreams from the age of thirteen, how he develops lucidity in them, and how he partially masters the direction of his dreams.
Almost every book on lucid dreams refers to St. Denys work (e.g. Patricia Garfield (2), Celia Green (3), and Stephen LaBerge (4) & (5)). Although we may consider the author of Les Rêves the father of modem lucid dream research, very little information about the book or its author are available. Thus the purpose of this article is to present new information as a result of a search for the original publication of Les Rêves.
The Original Work of Les Rêves
The original work may have only been available to a few as copies were scarce. Sigmund Freud states (6). “Maury, le sommeil et les rêves, Paris, 1878, p. 19, polemisiert lebhaft gegen d’Hervey, dessen Schrift ich mir trotz aller Bemühung nicht verschaffen konnte.” (transl.: Maury, The Sleep and Dreams, Paris, 1878, p. 19, polemics strongly on d’Hervey, whose book I could not lay hands on in spite of all my efforts.) Others like Havelock Ellis (7), Johann Stärcke (8), and A. Breton (9) refer to the fact that the original was very hard to get.
We have been able to trace original copies of Les Rêves to:
University Library, Utrecht/The Netherlands, Ex Libris 171. F.30:
Bibliothèque Nationale, Paris/France. Ex Libris Rés. p.R. 774 (R.71436 microfilm), Yale Medical School Library, New Haven/ U.S.A. Ex Libris EBL 175;
The New York Public Library/U.S.A. Ex Libris; no data available;
1This is the name-transcription as mentioned in a footnote on page 48 from the original work.
2 Copyright by C.M. den Blanken and E.J.G. Miejer. We wish to express our acknowledgement for their indispensable help to: Mr. C. Bouchet (France), Dr. C. Hopstaken (Holland), Dr. N.G. Pesch (Holland), Dr. F. Maissan (Holland), Dr. M Schatzman (England), CV. Stephan (Germany), and all others who helped and encouraged us with this article.
National Library of Medicine, Bethesda Maryland/ U.S.A. Ex Libris; no data available3
Description of Les Rêves
The information concerning Les Rêves presented here has been based upon the original copy of the University Library in Utrecht. This copy was probably rebound by this institute.
It contains 496 pages and the content is as follows:
Part 1 (4 chapters) “Ce qu’on doit s’attendre à trouver dans ce livre et comment il fut compose” (transl.: What you can expect to find in this book and the way it was composed.)
Part 2 (6 chapters): ‘Ou, tout en rapportant les opinions des autres, l’auteur continue d’exposaer les siennes” (transl.: Information on the opinions of others. The author continues to explain his.)
Part 3 (8 chapters): “Observations pratiques sur les rêves et sur les moyens de les diriger” (transl.: Practical observations on dreams and the ways to direct them.)
There is also a summary, an index, and an appendix entitled “Un rêve après avoir pris du hatehich” (transl.: A dream after I took hashish.)
On the frontispice there are seven color pictures with references to them in the text, (pages 381, 421, 422). [EDITORS NOTE: See front cover of this issue of Lucidity Letter for this illustration.] Six hypnagogic drawings, derived from the personal dream notebooks of the author of Les Rêves, have appeared as reprints in books by Coxhead and Hiller (10) and MacKenzie (11).
You can see that above these hypnagogic pictures there is a drawing of a dining room in which a painter and a completely nude young woman enter. Although the text refers to this picture, it is not clear if this one is drawn by the author of Les Rêves. However, we are inclined to think so.4
The original work had a cover with allegoric color drawings. [EDITORS NOTE:
See back cover of this issue of Lucidity Letter for the original Le Rêves cover.] The back cover has geometric maze patterns on grey paper with the publisher’s name, Librairie d’Amyot, Editeur, 8, Rue de la Paix, Paris. It also contains a printed list of their titles. In contrast to the alphabetical order of the other author’s names on the back cover of Le Rêves, the first name is “Hervey Saint-Denis (Marquis d’)”,5 and refers to two of his works: Histoire de ía Révolution à Naples depuis 1793 (transl.: History of the Revolution at Naples Since 1793) and Poéseis chinoises de l’époque des Thangs (transl.: Chinese poetry from the Thang period.)
3 We could not do research in the United States and encourage others to discover if there
are more originals by perhaps consulting the National Union Catalogue in Washington, D.C.
4To our knowledge this picture has never appeared in reprint, and we are glad to be able to offer
this picture with the six hypnagogic drawings.
5 We use the name transcription as mentioned on the cover of Le Rêves
In his book Le Sommeil et les Rêves (12) (transl.: The Sleep and Dreams) Vaschide gives a description of this cover and suggests that the drawing is by the author of Les Rêves. We don’t know on what information Vaschide has based his assumption, because we could not find in the text of the original Les Rêves any reference to it.
The original cover is not available at the University Library Utrecht, nor at the Bibliothèque Nationale Paris, nor the New York Public Library. Of the copy from the National Library of Medicine in Bethseda, Maryland we have no information. Fortunately, the Yale Medical School Library possesses this cover. However, the condition is poor. Although in the right corner of the cover, there is a signature with the name (A. Danyou?, A. Darjou?, or A. Dayay?). This library could not vouch for the signature. We assume that A. Danyou (?)may be the designer of the cover.6
Likewise, on the original we did not find an authors name. The main clue of the writer’s wishes to remain anonymous are found on page 339: “...L’autre me fut communiqué par un mathematicien illustre que je ne saurais nommer dans un livre où je garde moi-même l’anonyme” (transl.: I was informed by a well-known mathematician whose name I shall not reveal in a book in which I remain anonymous myself.). On page 48 the “anonymous” writer refers in a footnote to “le marquis d’Hervey-Saint-Denis”7 as the translator of Chinese poetry of the Thang period. Also on page 457 the author writes that he is in possession of an original Chinese book, and we know that Saint-Denis was a sinologue, so he probably had a copy.
A number of writers (e.g. Harald Meder (13)) suggest that Les Rêves is an account of 1946 dreams, gathered in 22 notebooks (“cahiers’) during a period of more than five years. Although the author of Les Rêves describes on page 13 these “cahiers”, complete with color drawings, it is erroneous to think that Les Rêves was based only upon these. The author quotes dreams other than those from the “cahiers” and also presents dreams of others (e.g. pages 323,420 & 435.) We have not been able to trace these “cahiers.”
The Term “Rêve Lucide” (Lucid Dream)
Morton Schatzman writes in his English, shortened version of Les Rêves (14) that the author uses several times the expression “rêve lucide” (transl.: lucid dream). But, according to Schatzman, we should not conclude that this expression has been used in the same manner as we use it today, i.e., a dreamer is aware of dreaming while dreaming. The current use of the expression was used for the first time by the Dutch writer/psychiatrist Frederik van Eeden (15), who refers also to “Marquis d’Hervé.”8 Indeed, the author of Les Rêves uses the term “lucid dream” as we define it today in the sentence, “aware of my true situation.” On page 287 he writes: “C’est-à-dire le premier rêve lucide au milieu duquel je posséderais bien le sentiment de ma situation” (transl.: That’s to say the first lucid dream in which I had the sensation of my situation.) With the last part of this sentence, he states that he knew that he was dreaming.
6 Reprinted with the kind permission of Yale Medical School Library.
7Again we use the name-transcription as mentioned in the publication.
8We use the name-transcription as mentioned in the publication.
Role of A.F. Alfred Maury
As noted earlier, Freud stated that Maury polemiced strongly about d’Hervey. The mentioned work Le Sommeil el les Rêves (16) appeared originally in 1861, six years before the publication of Les Rêves. The author of Les Rêves discusses many times the ideas of Alfred Maury with whom he disagrees. In the fourth edition (1878) of Les Sommeil et les Rêves , Maury takes issue with the ideas of d’Hervey.
On page 1 of the 1878 edition there is a footnote in which Maury writes: “Depuis que j’ai écrit ces lignes, M. le marquis d’Hervey de Saint-Denis9, aujourd’hui professeur de chinois au Collége de France, a publié sous le voile de l’anonyme, un livre intitulé ‘Les Rêves et les moyens de les diriger (Paris, 1867)” etc. (transl.: Since I have written the above lines, M. le Marquis d’Hervey de Saint-Denys,10 today the Chinese teacher at the College de France, has published, under the cover of anonymity, a book entitled ‘Les Reves et les Moyens de les diriger’). This is the first time, to our knowledge, that the authorship of Les Rêves became publicly known. Because Maury was, like Saint-Denys, allied to the College de France, and with the clues mentioned in this article, we assume there remains little doubt Saint-Denys was indeed the author of Les Rêves. Although Maury disagrees with d’Hervey-Saint-Denys’ ideas, he writes on page 49: ‘Nous avons parfois des rêves très lucides, le matin, peu avant le réveil” (transl.: Sometimes we have in the morning dreams, very lucid, just before awakening.)
The Contribution of N. Vaschide and W. Leertower
In 1911 Vaschide published Le Sommeil et les Rêves in which he summarizes and reviews the works of Maury, Freud, Mourly, Void, and Saint-Denys. One chapter (pages 136-175) has been dedicated to d’Hervey-Saint-Denys, entitled “Les recherches sur les rêves, du marquis d’Hervey de Saint-Denis”11 (transl.: the investigations on dreams by Marquis Saint-Denys.) Those interested in this work will find an adequate description of Les Rêves.
The Dutch psychologist, W. Leertower, also reviews in his book, Droomen en hun Uitilegging (17) the Saint-Denys’ book (page 53-60). He indicates the author as “the French Marquis d’Hervey.” Because this book has no publication date, we are not certain in which year this publication appeared. Due to the old-fashioned Dutch language, it must be from the beginning of this century. No further clues can be found in either book concerning the author of Les Rêves.
It must be noted that Freud got his information on Les Rêves from the publications of Alfred Maury and N. Vaschide. In his Traumdeutung he quotes Vaschide, who describes the ideas of d’Hervey concerning the coherence of dreams. We emphasize that Vaschide paraphrases d’Hervey. It is not, as Freud believed, a literal quotation. In fact, information used by many authors on Les Rêves does not come directly from the original publication (e.g., Freud refers to Maury and Vaschide and Johann Starcke refers to Vaschide). More recently a similar reference style appears. (e.g., Schatzman refers to the editor of the re-issue from Les Rêves, Claude Tchou, and Tchou refers to no one... [see next paragraph.])
9 We use the name-transcription as mentioned in the publication.
10 We use the name-transcription as mentioned in the publication.
11We use the name-transcription as mentioned in the publication.
1964 Re-Issue of Les Rêves
In 1964 editor Claude Tchou published in Paris a reprint of Les Rêves. In this issue the author was indicated as “Hervey de Saint-Denys”12 and the title has been shortened to Les Rêves et les Moyens de les Diriger (18). This re-issue is also difficult to find. We found a copy at the University Library Leiden/Holland (Ex Libris B43). This edition seems to be an exact version of the original, but it is not. No indication of the frontispice drawings or the appendix have been included. This appendix is interesting because the author reveals that not only has he been ill for a long period of time but that he has been administered strong doses of opium and he was for a while very afraid of becoming mad. Further, he describes a horrible dream under the influence of hashish. [EDITORS NOTE: See the appendix of this article for the first English translation of the appendix of Les Rêves].
Furthermore, we found that the editor of the 1964 re-issue, in some cases, mixed his footnotes with the original ones, again without acknowledgement (e.g.. on page 50 of the original you read “1. Diodore Lvl.ch XXV.” The editor writes the same sentence on page 383, adds seven lines, and indicates that the entire footnote is his). Changes have been made in the text, again without appropriate indication (e.g., on page 339 from the original we read “L’anonyme” whereas, the re-issue contains the word “l’anonymat).
The re-issue contains an extensive foreword by Robert Desoille, author of Le Rêves Éveille en Psychothérapie (19) (transl.: The Induced Dream in Psychotherapy.) Desoille discusses Les Rêves and his contribution is worthwhile reading. Also a short “Essai de biographie d’Hervey de Saint-Denis”13 (transl.: Essay on biography of d’Hervey de Saint-Denys) is included.
We were surprised to discover that the re-issue was not an identical version of the original; especially since this edition (on pages 306, 316. & 343) also contains references to the color drawings and Appendix, and because a lot of authors referred to the re-issue without indicating it was not complete.
We asked Tchou about this in March of 1988. He stated that he could not remember this re-issue of Les Rêves because he has published thousands of books, and he had no time for research on a publication that appeared nearly 25 years ago. Christian Bouchet (personal communication, August. 1988) informed us that Jacque Donnars was responsible for the Tchou edition and that the omission of the appendix was not a mistake, but a deliberate act due to its contents. If you read this appendix you’ll discover that it is indeed not stimulating reading.
Other Editions of Les Rêves
In 1982 Schatzman edited an English version of Les Rêves. It is a very shortened version and was based on the 1964 re-issue. Consequently, this version does not include the drawings or appendix nor does it refer to their existence. Although a shortened version is better than none at all, we conclude that this re-print should not be considered a translation, but rather an adaptation. Complete parts have not been included. Further, the whole atmosphere of the original - an almost totally flowery text - has vanished in the short, dry English sentences
12 We use the name-transcription as mentioned in the publication.
13 We use the name-transcription as mentioned in the publication
This edition contains misleading information, e.g. contrary to what was written on page 166 of this version, the original did not appear in 1869, but in 1867. Furthermore, the Marquis did not marry in 1870, but in 1868. Schatzman refers on page 3 of his version to an Italian edition of Les Rêves, edited by Laura Forti. Upon further discussion we were informed by him that the Italian publisher decided to not publish the book, after having contracted the translation.
In the 1981 bibliographic list from the German edition of Patricia Garfield’s Pathway Jo Ecstasy (20), there was an announcement that a German version of Saint-Denys’ book was in preparation. To our knowledge no such publication has appeared yet. We were informed by F. Maissan (Amsterdam) and C. Bouchet (Paris) of the existence of a re-print in French of Lsa Rêves. It appeared a few years ago at Editions d’Aujourd’ hui, but we have no further information about it at this time. In December of 1987, we were informed by a spokesman of Elsevier Science International in Amsterdam that their organization prepared a complete English re-print. A few months later, however, the same spokesman withdrew his statement and said he knew nothing about it.
One wonders if a re-print of Les Rêves means ‘trouble’ for publishers! As the area of lucid dreaming grows there is clearly a need for a more complete version of Les Rêves to be issued.
Biographical Details on Saint-Denys (1822-1892)14
In the “Essai de biographie d’Hervey de Saint-Denys”, the editor describes how he searched for biographical data on the author but was surprised to find so little information on such an erudite person. An interesting chapter, it seems almost as if d’Hervey Saint-Denys erased his personal history.
D’Hervey was a respectable member of his society and was awarded the “Legion d’Honneur,” was president of the Academie des Inscriptions et BellesLettres, professor at the College de France, sinologue, ethnologue, and author of several books
Born on the 6th of May, 1822, in Paris. We know little of his childhood and adolescence except that he had a private tutor. The original name d’Hervey was Marie-Jean-Leon Lecoq, Baron d’Hervey de Juchereau, who became, due to adoption, Marquis de Saint-Denys. At the age of 19, the Marquis went to a school for oriental languages, where he studied Chinese and Tartaro-Mandchou. At the age of 22, he started a literary career by translating a Spanish play into French- “Le poil de la prairie” (trans.: “The Bareness of the Prairie.”) Other works include: Recherches sur l’agriculture et l’horticulture des chinois (transi.: “Investigations on the Agriculture and Horticulture of the Chinese”), La Chine devant l’Europe (transl.: Having a Chinese Lead for Europe”), “Poésies chinoises de l’époque des Thangs”(transl.: “Chinese Poetry from the Thang Period”),Histoire de la Revolution a Naples depuis 1793 (transl.: “History of the Revolution in Napels since 1793”). Five years before his death, November 2, 1892, he published a work on the Chinese philosopher, Confucius,
14 This information is mainly derived from the “Essaide Biographie d’Hervey de Saint-Deny’s” which appeared in the Tchou reprint.
One year after the publication of Les Rêves, at the age of 46, the Marquis married a 19-year-old Austrian orphan, Louise de Ward. They had no children. From the text of Les Rêves, we can conclude that he had at least one sister.15
We believe that the available information on the book Les Rêves and its author are still limited. Nearly 120 years after its publication, we are still not even sure of the correct spelling of his name! This is indicative of the many unanswered questions concerning Les Rêves and it’s author.
1. Anonymous (1867). Les Rêves et les Moyens de les diriger; Observations pratiques.
Paris: Librairie d’Amyot, éditeur 8, Rue de la Paix.
2. Garfield, P. (1974). Creative dreaming. New York: Simon and Schuster,
3. Green, C. (1968). Lucid dreaming. London: Harnish Hamilton.
4. LaBerge, S. (1985). Lucid dreaming, Los Angeles: Jeremy P. Tarcher.
5. LaBerge, S. (1988), Lucid dreaming in Western literature. In J.L. Gackenbach & S.
LaBerge (Eds.), Conscious mind, sleeping brain: Perspectives on lucid dreaming, New York:
6. Freud, S. (1900). Die traurndeutung. Wien: Deuticke.
7. Ellis, H. (1911). The world of dreams. Boston: Houghton Mifflin.
8. Stärcke, J. (1912). Nieuwe droomexerimenten in verband met oudere en nieuwere
droomtheroieën. In Psychiatrische en Neurologische Bladen, Maart-April, Nederlandsche
Vereniging voor, Psychiatrie en Neurologie, Amsterdam: Uitg. F. van Rossen.
9. Breton, A. (1955). Les vases communicants. Paris.
12. Vaschide, N. (1918). Le sommeil et les rêves, In Ernest Flammarion (Ed.),
Bibliothéque de Philosophie Scientifique, Paris (originally appeared in 1911).
13. Meder, H. (1982). Träume bewusst machen. Wien/Freiburg/Basel: Herder Verlag.
14. de Saint-Denys, Hervey (1982). Dreams and how to guide them. Translated by N. Fry, edited by M. Schatzman. London: Gerald Duckworth.
15. van Eeden. F. (1912-13). A study of dreams. Proceedings of the Society for Psychical
Research. 26, 431-461.
16. Maury, A.F.A. (1878). Le sommeil et les rêves; etudes psychologiques sur ces
phénomènes et les divers états qui s’y rattachent suivies de recherches sur le
développement de l’instinct et de l’intelligence dans leurs rapports avec le phénomène du
sommeil. In Didier et Cie (ed.), Quai des Augustins, Paris. (originally appeared in 1861)
17. Leertouwer, W. Droomen en hun uitlegging. Amsterdam: Uitg. Sehors
18. de Saint-Denys, Hervey (1964). Lesrêves et les moyens de les diriger. Edited by
Jacques Donnars, In Claude Tchou (ed.), Bibliothèque do Merveilleux. Paris.
19. Desoille, R. (1945). Le rêve éveillé en psycho-therapie. Paris: Les presses
20. Garfield, P. (1981). Der weg des traum-mandala. Interlaken: Ansata-Verlag.
15 for further biographical data we refer the reader to the 1964 re-issue and Vaschide’s Le Sommeil et les Rêves.
Dream After I Took Hashish
English Translation by C. M. den Blanken16
I have voiced the opinion- which has been shared by a lot of physiologists that the somnabulistic and magnetic dreams, the ecstatic visions and hallucinations, as well as the dreams which are provoked by any sort of poison or narcotic, are more or less morbid modifications of the natural dream. But, in a book17 which has been exclusively dedicated to the study of natural sleep, I would be remiss by not including any observation on the psychological phenomenon of normal sleep. As appendix, a complementary document, the experience which follows shall not be without interest. You’ll find I think, in it elements of analytical comparison. I will show that a cerebral over-excitement which exaggerates and precipitates the movement of ideas, does not change at all the habitual laws of association.
The vividness of the illusions which bombard us when we are under the influence of narcotics like opium and hashish, cannot be ignored. A point which is probably not well-known, is that on taking those substances for the first time, you will seldom experience those delightful feelings which are reserved for those who have regular recourse to it. I suppose it is in this case a little like the first cigar; the physical unpleasantness gets the upper hand. Because I have been frequently administered during a long illness strong doses of opium, I have noted that gradual transition from gloomy and awkward dreams to those of idealism and excitement. As far as hashish is concerned, I had the rare opportunity to experiment while in excellent health. Here is my first dream:
It seemed to me that something had left my brain, like a spring in a defective watch, and that the chain of my memories wanted to unroll with an incoherence and unprecedented rapidity. In a faintly lit, uneven street I saw an interminable suite of marching people, dressed in black or brilliant uniforms, thin waifs, horrible street Arabs, women corolled with flowers seated on coffins or walking with the hearse. Next came carriages that stopped in front of me with their doors half-opened, as if they wanted to encourage me to make use of them. A mysterious attraction came over me, but, at the moment of stepping in. I shrank back with an inexpressible horror. I did not know which instinct told me that the carriage would take me to something horrible. I decided to go on foot. Bumping against passers-by. I headed quickly to a spot which I felt an urgency to arrive at yet not knowing where this place should be. I dared not ask the numerous people who bumped against me, because I was convinced they were my enemy. Finally I arrived at the unknown place and found I was with a young lady in an apartment belonging to someone else, whom I feared would be back any moment
From there I am transported, I don’t know how, to a magnificent and splendidly lit salon. I am dressed in a ball costume. Evidently, I am to assist at a great feast. I regard my dress and notice it is smeared with a strange foam.
16 I want to emphasize that I am not a professional translator and that it is very difficult to translate the French language from 120 years ago. Also the English language is not my native one. However, I felt it was important to make this appendix from Lea Rêvse available after 120 years to the readers of Lucidity Letter. [EDITORS NOTE: This has been further edited in order to ease reading. No sections have been deleted. Scholars can request copies of the original French version and the den Blanken unedited translation from the Lucidity Letter editor.]
17 Les Rêves et les Moyens de les Diriger; observations pratiques (translators note)
I raise my eyes, in front of me is the image of the woman I love, but twenty years older and dressed in monastic clothing.
While at the salon, an elegant crowd enters. I notice the chandelier is about to extinguish, but I realize at the same time that if I look at the candles one at a time, they will relight. Within a short time, fire lights up everywhere my eyes look. The gowns of the most charming ladies seem to become consumed with fire at my glance. Ashes fall, and now, horrible skeletons, purple mummies, or monsters eaten away by ulcerations, take the place of their ravishing bodies. Only the head remains charming and casts sad, wraithlike glances at me. What has not been set on fire by my eyes takes the most fantastic and unreasonable forms. A sofa elongates itself and becomes an extravagant ladder. I want to flee. The stairs change into an open wall. However, I escape from that evil place. I jump into one of those half-opened door carriages of which I spoke. This time I refuse to return to the mysterious destination from which I wanted to rapidly flee.
I sit down, and the carriage departs. Horror! It is filled with blood. I want to leave, but it is too late. We drive at an incredible speed. Where am I going? I don’t know. I only see on the road thousands of horrible indefinite things which fill me with great fear. I imagine that I hear a friend’s voice in space. It seems as if he is with me but doesn’t realize his morbid state. He curses me when he dies. I would rather have died myself in order to be rid of that pool of cruel thoughts; but a voice shouts at me that this wish of despair shall not be answered.
At rare moments I know this is not real. I understand that I had “brain troubles,” but don’t know if this is momentary or forever. A terrible thought comes to my mind that my family, because of their blind concern for prolonging my life, would prolong my torture in that infernal; shadow-play. I would never be able to express what I felt because I was, so to speak, isolated from the real world.
One moment I remember that I have seen myself before in an analogue state and that I have discovered a way to escape from it. I make an enormous effort to keep that thought, to make it clear, to remember. But such an effort causes me horrible pain in my brain. In another bizarre twist, I then imagine I see that thought as some kid of leech that tries, in vain, in a bloody way, to attach to the interior cavities of my skull, while an irresistible force reaches it and forces it to roll along with others in a general whirlpool.
Now there are some gaps. Humiliating images and scenes occur (e.g. I see myself with decorations and a uniform, at a dirty place, overcrowded with road-sweepers and drunken people who cover me with sarcasm and mud). Or, I imagine I have stolen, under the influence of some inexplicable hallucination, something insignificant. They drag me away to prison. All the folks whom I thought I could cling to seem to have an appointment to watch me pass by. Somehow I succeed in moving away by walking. I have created an enormous road. I arrive at the gates of a town, where I hope to find safe refuge. I have troubles with a strange customs-officer. They shoot just above my head, because they want to investigate my thoughts and not my luggage. An inner revelation comes over me. I had been transported to a world where the ideal replaces the real, where the intellectuality is a contraband, where you are provided thoughts rather than acquire them [EDITORS NOTE: translation reads “where you are provided with thoughts like on earth with comestibles.”]. I tremble and hope that the customs-officers will not discover something wrong with me. I believe I have committed a crime, although I don’t have the slightest idea what it is. However, I enter. They compel me to leave my body behind at the gate. I notice they put it in a box with a label carrying my name. I wander around town as a shadow, hearing voices of invisible people like myself. I perceive thousands of strange impressions from the real world. Whether it was intellectual affairs which were locked up in golden or lead boxes, or whether it was essential material objects which moved by themselves, they came to talk to me. And I understood it all completely.
Soon I see myself carried away to an amphitheater-theater where a terrible surgical operation will take place. It will be performed on a prisoner who had tried to filch his body from customs. I am moved by the victim. Afterward, when the surgeon pricks his scalpel into the patient’s flesh, I feel a deep grief. I recognize that it is me who must endure all the suffering from those cruelties. I want to flee, but they have tied me up. The condemned joke terribly about the transition of sensibilities.
The violence of that situation takes me out of that critical atmosphere. I don’t know how, but I undergo a new series of internal surprises. First, I am absorbed by a vague and sudden fear. I find myself in a marvelous boudoir with several entrances. I see sinister apparitions arriving. As soon as I half-way open a door, some heart-rending sighs are emitted. Several friends come to embrace me. They are covered in a repulsive mud, but I don’t dare resist. I hear them laughing derisively, and then they leave. Next, I see my stomach swelling out of proportion. I remember I have swallowed an unknown reptile which is now developing itself. It makes a hole in my chest and puts its stinking and horrible head in front of my face. Then everything is over.
I return to the thought of investigating my own brain. I notice admirable hidden treasures, and I have the feeling I will never be able to retrieve them. I recognize also several abominable instincts, and I shiver at the thought of what they could bring. I ignore, by the way, how to handle those indescribable instruments of that immense laboratory. By accident I touch one and a formidable noise emits. I had the conviction that my brain-pan would collapse under the pressure of some unheard vibration-hurricane if I didn’t open some part as an escape. Can I trepan myself…
In this manner that crazy dream went on. Several times I tried in a violent attempt of willpower to combat the tyranny of those disheartened illusions. But I was without a force to wake myself, and the dream returned with doubled intensity. Mocking heads appeared from all sides. Finally, from time to time, the idea that I was killing myself traveled through my troubled mind, like a lurid flash of lightning in a stormy night. I asked myself if what I experienced was not a moral disorder of agony, or if that state was not Death itself, and as a consequence, the eternal rest which I had searched for.
These are the impressions I can remember. Probably, it is only a thousandth part of what went through my mind. The exaltation of the moral sensibility was violent; but, in the nature and lapses of thought I can’t discover anything that would not affirm my opinion that the analytical study of natural dreams is sufficient to explain the most varied morbid phenomenon. The awakening arrived gradually. At the same time that my visions lost their clarity, they became more relaxed. I had a rather slight somnolence-period filled with fleeting impressions, several of which were graceful, and I opened my eyes five or six times without really seeing, before my real life took definite possession of me.
I found myself in a state of physical and moral numbness on the day that followed that agitated night. My memory was especially poor. However, convinced that his situation was very favorable for the analysis of the particular disorder of my mind, I took pen with a very heavy hand and made, with half-closed eyes, notes of my impressions. If this other fragment is not as interesting as I supposed on writing it, it offers, however, as an intermediate state between waking and sleeping-some significant indications which have made me decide to present it here fully. It is as follows:
It’s an uncommon state of mind in which I find myself. It seems to me like an induced dream which I see develop, like a fog which expands through my thoughts, a series of closely related reminiscences. I am aware of myself, but I don’t perceive any clear distinguishing ideas. I feel that if I could stop one, it would become the key to the preceding and succeeding ideas. But, apart from some vague extractions which don’t say anything to me, all of them escape before I’ve been able to catch them. It is not so that a dream without images shows the same incoherence, the same spontaneous overflow of reminiscences?
If I make an effort to break through the fog which enwraps this daydreaming, I immediately feel a rather vivid pain in my head. If I want to return to reality, instead of letting my thoughts run by themselves, I have for a moment lost the memory of my own existence. The things which I know best, escape me. Every fleeting impression evaporates with such great rapidity, that not more than one sentence which I want to write down on paper arrives there. The sentences that I do scribble at this very moment write themselves mechanically, so to speak, by the instinctive correlation which is formed between the words that come into my mind and the letters which correspond to them. I haven’t enough liberty of mind to think it over.
If I want to preserve some recollection of this strange chaos, it’s necessary to let my pen write as quickly as possible, without re-reading those fleeting impressions and without understanding why it was spoiled. The domain of my thoughts seems to me like a white curtain on which, without letting a trace behind, the images of a magic lantern pass by.
The stenography itself is not able to record certain observations which strike me instantly by their precise lucidity, but demands other sentences which hardly remain present one second in my mind. Soon my hand is very tired. Regarding those elusive thoughts, I suppose there are resemblances to the images of the magic lantern. They are only reflections and not new conceptions.
The concatenation of thoughts which produce themselves this very moment, start almost always by an indefinite notion, which I try in vain to clarify. That indefinite notion directs me to a second impression which is no less fleeting. And that second one guides me to a third and so on, without becoming more clear. I suppose that if I was sleeping, those incomplete ideas would precisely form some horrible and indescribable dreams, of which the images escape even logical analysis.
Having an opportunity take hashish again, and this time influenced by gay music and suitable circumstances by which could direct my thoughts in a more agreeable direction, I had a dream very different from the one described. Concerning my state of mind the next day, it was exactly like the First time.18
FIN (WRITTEN in 1867)19
END (TRANSLATION in 1988)
(Note on the authors: Drs. Carolus M. den Blanken was born in Utrecht (Holland) and works as a psycotherapist in private practice and as a free-lance management-trainer. Drs. Eli J.G. Meyer was born in Rotterdamn (Holland) and works as a psycho-pathologist at the Faculty Social Sciences of Utrecht University and as a psycho-therapist at RIAGG Institute Utrecht.)
18 Translators Note: For those interested in the relationship between narcotics and (lucid) dreams, I refer you to: ROOS, M. (1984). Vergleichsstudie zwischen Klartraumerfahrungen und Erlebnisse unter dem Einfluss psychodelischen Drogen (translation: Comparative study between lucid dream experiences and experiences under the influence of psychodelic drugs.) Doctoral Dissertation. Johann-Wolfgang-Goethe University. Frankfurt a/M, Germany.
19 Original year of publication: 1867 by Librairied d’Amyot, Paris. Les Rêves et les Moyens de les Diriger; observations pratiques avec appendixe “Un Rêve après avoir pris du hatchich”. Published anonymously.
Kiel, West Germany
I am a hypnotherapist who works with lucid dreams. I would like to function as a connection, a sort of bridge, between these two groups of scientists, the hypnotherapists, and the lucid dream researchers. Hopefully, I can influence your perception of hypnotherapy, so you can understand how dream lucidity can be learned by this means.
If I follow the classification scheme for induction methods by Robert Price, hypnotherapy would fall under “additional techniques.” It combines the “lucid-awareness training techniques” with the “intention and suggestion techniques.” So you can call hypnotherapy a “combined combination technique.”
As Milton Erickson discovered we learn much better in a trance state. Trance and hypnosis, as Ericksonians understand it, do not mean some sort of drowsy or indolent state, but are defined as “active unconscious learning, deliberated from every usual limitation of rational thinking; as a time of exercise with the help of those unconscious creative potentials a human has without knowing or using.”2 All of you know about trance. You have all experienced it time and time again. Why not learn as comfortably and easily as possible the balance and special concentration found in the trance state?
Some weeks ago I went to a congress in Germany. I had to listen to one speech after another. As most of the presenters were excellent hypnotists - I guess without knowing - it only took me 5 minutes and I fell asleep. I heard the monotonous voice in the distance. I decided then to play a game with myself. My body felt quite comfortable sitting there in a chair with my eyes closed. But Imanaged to stay awake, enjoying the interesting experience of letting my unconscious pick out some of the words and sentences which were meaningful to me. It’s possible to hold yourself in balance, sitting comfortably in a chair, and feel the inner quietness, and at the same time, you can enjoy the exciting experience of being in a state of awareness.
Learning to have lucid dreams is part of dream development, a widening experience which is more of less unknown in our western culture. Yogis always knew about dream development - lucid dreaming being a step on their way to enlightenment. In our society, psychotherapy naturally evokes such experiences. This technique widens your consciousness leading to dream development as is shown in the books of Patricia Garfield.
When our everyday understanding becomes as wide as the general understanding that is sometimes possible in our dreams, then our dreams can be understood as easily as everyday acting, becoming more and more clear until, finally, full lucidity is reached. The growing understanding of our dreams, on the other hand, leads to another understanding - what growing means in our everyday understanding. And if you were really paying attention and have not excused my words as some foreign English, you
1This is a paper which was presented at the 1988 annual meeting of the Association for the Study of Dreams. Santa Cruz, California.
2 Peter 1983, p. 348.
would be confused. This is what I intended. The hypnotherapeutic technique of confusion provokes you to let go. You adjust and clear your mind in a new way so that you are able to reach a higher level of awareness. Erickson said, “Any trance that is of a sufficient level to let your unconscious mind to take a look at what’s going on, is sufficient . . . And you should use your mind at the unconscious level, even while you are using it at the conscious level.”
Ernest Rossi specifies in his book, Dreams and the Growth of Personality, the important issue we have to look for when dream development is taking place. He states that dreams are a mirror of the development of our consciousness. He then outlines the following items in our dreams as signs of the process of our awareness expanding:
1. The transformation of the dream ego from being a passive victim to an active participant in the dream.
2. The transformation from a uni-level participation (things just happening) to an experience of two or more states of being; so that through self-reflection, dialogue, and evaluating, the integration of several parts becomes possible.
3. The transformation from the state of chaos (expressed through images of danger and feelings of anxiety) to a new state characterized by satisfying circumstances and emotions as the fruit of self-reflection, insights, and the new outlook.
Before we reach lucidity in dreams, these transformations are spontaneous and autonomous. I want to give you a dramatic example from my own dream life, where all these aspects mentioned can be seen. I had this dream about a year before I had my first spontaneous lucid dream.
The Stopping Plane
I stood outside with my youngest son watching a plane. There seemed to be something wrong with the plane, because some smoke came out and it didn’t fly straight any longer. It began to teeter. I was shocked and afraid that it might fall down on the city nearby. I expressed my feelings to my son. Then we saw the plane flying away from the city and towards us.
After a while there was no doubt that the plane came closer to us, tottering and turning around. There was no possibility to escape. The plane was too quick. And it became clear, too, that it would crash right on the spot where we were standing. I reflected: well, this is my last second of life. Everything is over now. Then there was some sort of “o.k.” feeling. I said to myself, “Yes, it’s over now. That’s a fact.”
I accepted our death and waited actively for the crash. In this moment there was a dramatic change. I heard and saw the plane begin to stop about 10 feet over our heads. A huge parachute came out and stopped the falling plane totally. It just stood in the air now, the parachute over us like a huge protective screen. And then it came down slowly beside us. I felt safe and relieved.
Rosen 1982. p. 64
In the first part I simply watched. I was a passive observer of autonomous forces. What generated change was my becoming an active participant in the dream process.
There are several stages of activity: At first I only talked to my son (another aspect of myself, you might say) and expressed my frightened feelings. When these became stronger and stronger - shown in the image of the plane coming nearer and nearer to destroying me - I had to go to the next level of activity. My consciousness widened to self-reflection, which meant in this situation, that I saw myself experiencing the last second of my life. From this overview a new level of activity aroused. An evaluation of the situation was possible. I accepted. This again expanded my awareness - saying yes to the most horrifying thing - that I am going to be killed. And this saved my life, so to speak. This was the final key for the dramatic change in the dream, as well in my feelings. It’s amazing that this change could happen just by reflection and evaluation. There was no other activity performed in the dream, such as fighting or moving, just accepting.
In hypnotherapy we have several ways to train activity and to widen consciousness, so that a transfer can be made to the dreams at night-time. There has been no research done so far in this field, because hypnotherapists didn’t know about lucid dreaming, and lucid dreamers don’t generally know about hypnotherapy. Ernest Rossi, the hypnotherapist and close colleague of Milton Erickson said that the term “lucid dreaming” was not used in the first edition of his book in 1972. But for the second edition in 1985, he pointed out that his patient, Davina, learned to have lucid dreams during the course of her therapy. He showed that in her dream examples. This is something like a double – blind-experiment because neither the therapist nor the patient were aware of previous work on the concept and phenomenon of lucid dreaming. During hypnotherapy it naturally happened that the patient developed lucid dreams, even when no one was informed of this possibility. (This also shows that Erickson was right with his concept that the work had to be done by the patient, not by the therapist.) Ross; wrote, “Davina’s record, then, provides an unusually clear example of how the development of lucid dreaming can be an entirely spontaneous and optimal process of psychological change, growth, and transformation.”3 The same thing happened to me in my teaching therapy, and that’s why I began to teach my patients lucid dreaming in hypnotherapy, consciously.
In my personal experience and the experiences with my clients, I found that everything widening the consciousness during the day may lead to lucid dreaming during the night. The mere experience of trance can widen your consciousness. Did you ever experience the language of a finger of your hand saying “yes” or “no” (or “I don’t want to answer”) by an autonomic movement? You can try it right now by responding to my question, “Are you enjoying a light trance right now?” If your unconscious says “yes,” a finger of your left hand can move. If your unconscious says “no,” a finger of your right hand can move. That’s the way David Cheek came to a basic conversation with the unconscious mind. Even when your conscious mind says “yes,” your autonomic system may say “no,” with its better knowledge of the whole situation. If there is a missing correspondence this may widen your perspective and show you that there is something in the way which you haven’t been aware of before. Since trance work is body work, the language of the body, just as verbal language, can widen your consciousness.
3Rossi 1985, S. 219
Right from the beginning, clients have new bodily and often new emotional experiences. They don’t have to wait for the success of the therapy because then consciousness is widened right in the first sessions of trance training. Many clients remember in detail what they experienced in an altered state of consciousness. They also recall events in the therapist’s room. A part of them registers everything as if an observer not a participant.
Milton Erickson in his early years often insisted on deep trance phenomenons as a resource in therapy. These patients might have forgotten what had been going on. He also developed the creative possibilities of everyday light trances. Many of his disciples prefer to work with these light trance states allowing the consciousness to be present unless it interferes. By working in trance, the patient can experience at least two levels of reality at the same time: on the trance level - acting and communicating with the therapist as you work on a special problem - and on the every day level - you can observe and register the process. With this you train to have more than one ego state in a dream.
In lucid dreams you also have to be able to maintain at least two levels of consciousness. As LaBerge pointed out, it’s impossible to become lucid in a dream until there is that balance of being involved in the dream play and being the observer at the same time. Therefore learning to train the ability to stay conscious while working in trance can widen your consciousness.
I usually try to facilitate this by shifting from one state to the other and aiding the patient to “learn to balance in the states.” For instance, I could ask, “Where are you right now with your concentration?” You are aware of your right foot, feeling more or less warm; you are aware of the brightness of the room compared to other rooms; you are aware of the tone of my voice in addition to what I am telling you; you are aware of the special language of hypnosis, of the rhythms of my repetitions. If you listened carefully, you would have noticed how often I used an embedded command, so that you could also learn on an unconscious level, For example, notice the embedded command in my last sentence: “Learn on an unconscious level,” You can maintain the experiencing level and the analyzing level simultaneously.
An opportunity to utilize trance occurs when a patient won’t relinquish or denies an emotion. With every strong emotion we can go into trance, allowing creative change to occur, When I do this task the client to stay with this emotion, focusing on it, taking the opportunity given by this pattern interruption to experience it in a new way more slowly, for instance, or with another intensity.
After learning the structural patterns of emotions, as taught by David Gordon, experienced emotions in a new way - a widening of my horizon. I had a lucid dream the first night after that! Did you ever ask yourself, “Is this feeling of comfort more active or more passive? Does it have a slow, moderate, or fast speed? Is the rhythm more even or uneven? What lime frame is the emotion about - past, present, or future? Or maybe past and future? What about the degree of the emotional strength - low, moderate, or high intensity? Do you feel the comfort has a large or small size? When you look for the visual representation, is it vague or rich?’ Asking questions like these may lead to widening your usual patterns of feeling and expanding your awareness.
These, I feel, are aspects of hypnotherapy which seem to have a positive influence on the ability to dream lucidly.
Let me repeat my hypothesis:
A. It is possible to have a transfer from conscious widening experiences during the day to the conscious widening experience of lucid dreaming during the night.
B. It is possible to experience trance as a conscious widening experience.
C. Becoming aware of body language may help to expand the consciousness.
D. Gaining the ability to stay conscious during trance work may develop the ability to have lucid dreams.
E. Interrupting the usual patterns of emotions and experiencing different ways may expand the awareness.
The following are examples showing special techniques in hypnotherapy which have obviously led to lucid dreaming.
My patient, Gaby, was a 21 year old woman displaying manifest anxiety. She lived at home with her parents and was unable to be alone day or night. Gaby felt persecuted by an invisible being at home. I worked with her hypnotherapeutically on this problem in the presence of her parents. I asked her questions about the persecutor to make him concrete. She couldn’t see him, only hear him, but was able to answer questions like: “Is it more a man or more a woman? What hair color would fit him? What is his size? How old is he? What might he wear?” After a while, she became more and more involved with guessing and describing the details about him. When in a trance state, I asked her to give a name to her persecutor. She was confused, but then named him “elephant.” She did so because she remembered a special picture of an elephant she had been laughing at. This was the first anxiety reducing maneuver Gabs developed.
I then asked her to allow the elephant to come to my room so we could talk with him and find out his wishes. I assured her I would give her any shelter necessary. The “elephant” came in and stood at a distance of 15 feet. I discussed with Gaby the questions we would ask. She then asked him directly. She was able to hear his answers. Through our discussion, I gave her the idea that this person may have other intentions than what she expected - maybe even good intentions. This “reframing” technique changed her frame of reference in which she was perceiving things. By giving only an impulse - not a direct answer - to the patient, the perspective is widened. This allowed the patient to perceive the situation differently.
Gaby followed me. When she asked the elephant why he came to frighten her, she heard him answer. It was not his intention to frighten her, but rather to be near her because she was so lonely. He wanted to give her some entertainment. Gaby began to weep. That’s an important indicator of an effective reframing process, the “reconciling physiology.” As Thies Stahl calls it, (in Bandler and Grinder) the change from, sympathetically to parasympathetically activated physiology happens just at the moment when the patient can accept the part of themselves which they had rejected before.
After this lesson Gaby had her first recurring dream, in which her ex-partner persecuted her, but with a new outcome - she jumped over a closed door. Some nights later she had her first lucid dream from which she awakened with a good feeling that lasted the whole day. In the dream Gaby went to a restaurant where she saw a sign which read, “Guru Jrgen.” She was curious and frightened and wanted to see the Guru. She looked in the window. The Guru looked young, about 40 years old, but with white hair, He wore jeans. When he saw her, he stood up. She wanted to run away, but was not very quick. The Guru came out and shouted, “She is anxious!” Then a handful of young boys came after her and she fought with them. Three boys grabbed her at the same time, and she struggled desperately. Then she broke free and ran away, but again not very quickly. One of the boys said, “I will give her three minutes head start.” She came to a path in a wood and thought, “Now they must be here soon.” She wanted to fly and at this moment she became lucid. Flying high she said to herself, “I’m just dreaming.” Her anxiety had gone. She wondered why the boys didn’t come and decided to fly back. But there was nobody.
After this breakthrough Gaby’s development went well. She began to sleep in her own room, went out again to see friends, and step-by-step she developed a new independence.
Another example is of a young man of 21 years, Gerd, who had failed his qualifying exam for university entrance. He began training as an information-electrical engineer. At this time he asked for therapy. Some days before he had to do an intermediate test, of which he was sure he would again fail. He had the following dream:
I’m traveling in the first railroad cars of a train. On a railway embankment there is a switch to a side-track. The train drives on this side track at a very high speed and can’t be stopped. It knocks down the buffer-stop and finally some of the railroad ears are hanging down the embankment. I manage to get out of the first car uninjured, which is hanging only some feet off the ground.
This was an opportunity to do dream work in trance. Telling the dream and describing the environment in detail facilitated getting into the trance state. Now flexibility had to be taught to find better solutions. We worked on the dream as if Gerd had been lucid during the dream. Before getting out of the train I asked Gerd to look to the other side of the car. He saw the emergency brake and had the idea to pull it. Then he went to the locomotive engine and convinced the engineer to drive the train back to the other track. He threw the switch, and the train went on in another direction.
Gerd passed the test with the highest grade, but he didn’t tell me for weeks. He had two lucid dreams which mirrored his trance teachings: “I’m driving with my VW on a steep road. I am hindered by some thoughtless road users, for example by a truck, which overtakes me on the right just at the moment when I overtake a slow-moving car. Suddenly the front windshield is as small as the rear windshield. After I check this by turning around, the front windshield again has another form. Logically I can only be in a dream. I’m very thankful for this realization and enjoy the state. Unfortunately it doesn’t stay very long, as I’m thinking too much instead of paying attention to my environment.” Here the lucidity came up in the moment when he was flexible enough to look around, as he had learned to do in trance.
The patient’s next lucid dream went like this: “Together with another person I am fleeing an unknown danger in a strange building. I climb up higher and higher. When I finally find a way out, I find myself on the top of a hall. There is the danger that I may fall down, because my only hold is some piled stones. Fortunately I notice at this moment that I’m dreaming. Instead of falling I decide to float down. The realization that I’m dreaming is not so important to me. I don’t want to risk the dream. Therefore, I let myself fall or float without wishing anything”
Half a year later he decided to study engineering in a technical college, which was more consistent with his abilities.
It’s important for me as a therapist not to stand in the way when a patient is working. I don’t direct the content of the dream story, and I don’t give interpretations. To do dream work in trance you can use Gestalt techniques or the Jungian-Senoi method, of Strephon Kaplan-Williams. Applying these techniques in trance makes them more effective.
In my next example I worked with submodalities. Our ability to reflect our experiences is due to the representations of our senses such as visual pictures, auditory tones or sounds and kinesthetic sensations. The most important representational systems are the visual, the auditory, and the kinesthetic. Submodalities are the small elements within these modalities, such as brightness or color for the visual system, loudness or rhythm for the auditory, and intensity or temperature for the kinesthetic. We all develop individual styles in reacting to inner and outer stimuli. When someone brings to our attention that we exclusively experience the world and invites us to interrupt these automatic ways of responding by changing a submodality, the whole state changes, and in this way, new learning and growth processes are evoked.
I worked with a young colleague, Karin, on the submodality “distance,” when she confronted a terrifying figure. In a visual hallucination, a fantasy woman came from behind and frightened her while she was in the bathroom. Karin decided to confront her while in trance. Prior to this we discussed changing the picture before the woman appears. With her eyes open Karin decided to let her come very near to my door, so that she could be certain she could send her away whenever she wanted to. I suggested she play a little with the distance of the picture - to let the person come nearer and to zoom her away again - being aware of her feelings each time. After experimenting, Karin decided that 10 feet was the distance where she didn’t feel any anxiety. She named the person “Nirak,” which is the spelling of “Karin read from behind. As my colleague she understood she would have a conversation with her “shadow.”
This is how it was structured
1. Saying hello in some way and expressing the wish to communicate.
2. Asking, respectfully, if Nirak is willing to communicate.
3. Making clear what “yes” and “no” meant as a minimum communication form
and demonstrating this.
4. Asking questions such as, ”What did you do before to get my attention that
some changes are necessary? Is it possible to tell some aspects of your
positive intentions? What do you want me to change so that you can feel
better? Are you ready to give a part of your energy for other projects one day?”
5. Saying thank you and asking for more meetings in dreams in order to go on
learning and getting more advice. The conversation ended.
Karin and Nirak had reached an agreement that Nirak should always hold the distance of 10 feet and come from the front. In her first lucid dream Karin realized she was dreaming at the moment she looked into the eyes of a frightening dog. When she said to the animal, “You must not be afraid of me,” she lost her anxiety and was reminded of the term “underdog” and “don’t run away!” and knew she was dreaming. Karin laughed and was very happy. She went on talking to the other people in the dream, who had climbed a staircase. She said, “You can all come back, it’s only a dream!” Slowly they came down the staircase. They formed a semi-circle as they came nearer. When they were quite near, she again was frightened and said with a trembling voice, “Don’t look at me like this! It’s only a dream. I become anxious when you come too close to me. I want to know about the meaning of every one of you, but please one at a time.” They stopped. She then had several conversations with them. After that she wanted to fly and did so with the persons in her dream.
At this point the dream became a high lucid dream. Karin flew through a tree without getting hurt and then to a mountain with a crater. She felt a wonderful completeness.
One of my basic instruments included in each of the examples I have given you has been from Paul Carter, and to some extent, Wolfgang Lenk, the procedure of parts work utilized. To paraphrase: If you take a symptom or a frightening dream figure, it’s a part of your system you must respect. Every symptom is a miscarried self-healing process, and therefore a friend who in some way pulls the emergency brake. It’s worth it to lend him our ear.
In hypnotherapeutic parts work this can be done by:
1. Developing the part in its sensory representations. (You remember Gaby’s
symptom of feeling persecuted and hearing noises in the house? We developed
it as a person with a name “Elephant.”)
2. Opening up communications with the part.
3. Discovering the goals of the part, especially the positive intent, for
reconciliation. (This being change by reframing.)
4. Learning from the part how to make new choices.
5. Arranging future contacts for ongoing learning and integration within
satisfying circumstances. This is where we can place anchors and give
suggestions for lucid dreaming.
The wholistic concept of parts work corresponds to the research of Paul Tholey. We must treat dream figures as if they are real beings. He has found through lucid dreaming that dream figures can have an independent awareness, memory, and motivation. This method, however, does not correspond with Tholey’s Gestalt world view to separate from top-dog hostile dream figures. Neither does it correspond to the Jungian-Senoi technique where killing a dream figure is allowed.
As all results in experiments depend on the underlying model of reality, the question of how to deal with symptoms or frightening dream figures can’t be decided by experiments. In hypnotherapy it’s believed that a symptom has all the information necessary to change life and to recover.
In a final example, I use a personal experience to describe the meaningful understanding of a symptom by parts work. In winter I joined a seminar in cancer therapy. We worked in small groups with our own symptoms to gain self-experience. I chose a pain in my left arm represented by a picture of an arm and a hand with a finger pointing out. I thought one of those terrible top dogs wanted to control me! But I began a conversation, first just by yes-and-no-signals, then by thoughts. I asked for the positive intentions of that part and understood it wanted to show me something. Suddenly the picture changed, and the finger pointed to the west. To me, this meant go to the conference in California and tell about your experiences with lucid dreams. Don’t care about the authority that wants to stop you. Go your own way! The supposed top dog had changed into a self-supporting aspect and now became much more sympathetic to me. The next day we continued asking for help and advice, and I received more answers in thoughts and pictures I wouldn’t have expected. This convinced me it was really the part answering. My inner therapist, as I named this part later, was so content with my understanding, he gave me a great deal of his energy when I came home. Instead of being tired from a strenuous seminar. I began to write down ideas for this meeting. This really felt like a reunion of a beloved personality part that had been split off.
I have given many examples of hypnotherapy utilizing dream work. I have not discussed story-telling using metaphors, but I will conclude with a special anchor.
I give you one of my anchors - “Turn on the light of lucidity” whenever a switch appears in your dream. Don’t become side-tracked. Always go back to the switch to find the right way for lucid dreaming. How real do you feel right now? Do you agree with Kay Thompson, when she says, “The true dreamer is the only true realist, because the dreamer can accept the unreality of his dreams without being shattered by the illusion of the real reality.” (Thompson. K. in: Klippstein)
Summary: Clients in hypnotherapy are being taught lucid dreaming. Those aspects of the methods which may be of influence have been discussed. Lucid dreamers may profit from hypnotherapeutical approaches in handling problems in their lucid dreams.
Bandler, R, & Grinder, J. (1985). Reframing. Pderborn: Junfermann.
Beyer, G. & Wenzel, R. (1987). Der klartraum. Diplomarbeit Mnster (unpublished).
Carter, P. (1983). The parts model: A formula for integrity. Unpublished Dissertation.
Erickson, M. H. & Rossi, E. L. (1979). Hypnotherapy: An exploratory casebook. New York: Irvington.
Erickson, M. H. & Rossi, S. L. (1976). Hypnotic realities: The induction of clinical hypnosis and forms of indirect suggestions. New York: Irvington.
Faraday, A. (1975). The dream game. London: Maurice Temple Smith.
Garfield, P. (1974). Creative dreaming. New York: Simon and Schuster.
Gordon. D. (1978). Therapeutic metaphors. Cupertino: Metapublications.
Gordon, D. & Meyers-Anderson, M. (1981). Phoenix. Therapeutic patters of Milton H. Erickson. Cupertino: Metapublications.
Klippstein, H. (1986). Hypnotische und luzide trume. In Hrsg. Peter, B. und C. Kraiker (Eds.), Hypnose und kognitton Band 3, Heft 2. Okt.
LaBerge, S. (1985). Lucid dreaming. Los Angeles: Jeremy P. Tarcher.
Peter, B. (Hrsg.) (1985). Hypnose and hypnotherapie each Milton H. Erickson Mnchen: Pfeiffer.
Price, R. (chair) (1986). The problem of induction. A panel discussion. Lucidity Letter, 5(1).
Rosen, S. (1982). My voice will go with you: The teaching tales of Milton H Erickson. New York. London: Norton.
Rossi, E. L. (1972). Dreams and the growth of personality. New York: Brunner and Mazel.
Tholey, P. (1988). Review of a program of psychotherapeutic application of lucid dreaming. In J.I. Gackenhach and S. LaBerge (Eds.), Conscious mind, sleeping brain. New York. London.
Fort Lauderdale, Florida
It has been noted that both lucid and non-lucid dreams have developed an untrustworthy or illusory reputation among some cultures. Elements of superstition and/or fear have been woven throughout even our own culture’s attitudes. A more traditional example of this might be found in Chinese Taoism and alchemy. Chinese Taoist Master Chuang Tzu (300 B.C.) was one of the first to express personal apprehensions or confusions regarding personal lucid dreams and fantasy. He wrote of himself:1
Once upon a time, I - Chuang Tzu - dreamed I was a butterfly flying happily here and there . . . suddenly I woke up! And I was indeed Chuang Tzu! Did Chuang Tzu dream he was a butterfly; or did the butterfly dream he was Chuang Tzu ...
The goal of regulating or accomplishing more-perfect mind states - at least so far as Chinese Taoism has demonstrated - included the elimination of many regular dream faculties and ideas, as well as the many para-lucid and lucid dream states.
The late nineteenth century Chinese alchemist and Taoist Master Chao Pi Ch’en wrote in his Hsin Ming Fa Chueh Ming Chih (The Secrets of Cultivating Essential Nature and Eternal Life) (189).2
…(the practicer) should guard against any drain of the positive principle at night. I urge all serious students to pay particular attention!
If his effort slackens for a single day he will be disturbed by dreams at night and thereby lose the prenatal generative force…
…He should know that all diligent practicers are FREE FROM DREAMS. The Tang Ching says:
The perfect man is free from dreams.
1Blakemore, Colin. (1977). Mechanisms of the mind.Cambridge Univ. Press, 208 pp.; p. 29.
Another fine reference on Chuang Tzu might be Chuang Tzu: Genius of the Absurd by C. Waltham (1971). Ace Books, 400 pp. Chuang Tzu was part psychologist, part philosopher, part magician, and part vagabond Bohemian. The Ace translation was done by Legge from Vol XXXIX and XL of the Sacred Books of the East edited by M. Muller; Clarendon Press Oxford (1891).
2Yu, Ku’an Lu. (1970). Taoist Yoga: Alchemy and immortality. Weiser, 206 pp.
Translator Lu took Ch’ens century-old texts (in code) and gave them exposure in the West. The oral tradition is still needed even after reading it all. Lu’s teacher was Ch’an Master Hsu Yun, the Dharma successor of all five Chan sects in China.
There are four categories of good men who are free from dreams...the perfect, the immortal, the saint, and the sage (p. 95).
Should one desire to, then what would be the procedure to gain personal independence from both lucid and non-lucid dreaming? In the Chinese-to-English translation, Lu Ku’an Yu offers Master Chao Pi Ch’en’s points concerning detrimental emissions and psycho spiritual energy releases coming from fantasy, lucid/non-lucid dreaming, and creativity when used without forethought or value. Chao Pi Ch’en explained the dangers, especially for the conscious alchemist or mystic attuned to subtle physiological processes:
therefore, ALL DREAMS ARE UN-REAL except that of emission which is followed by the discharge of the generative fluid
If the practitioner wants to overcome drowsiness in order to be free from dreams, he should use the method called “coiling up the body into five dragons” which will stop his drowsiness and put an end to his dreams. As a result, he will no longer worry about the most precious thing ... that preserves life.
He will then be able to sublimate the generative force into the bright pearl (p. 94).
The “body of five dragons”3 was an allegorical metaphor for secret physio-spiritual practices. Chao Pi Ch’en reveals:
To achieve this body (the body of five dragons) he should rely on the four-fold alchemical process of breathing - inhalation, exhalation, ascent, and descent which produce the immortal breath which is independent of breathing through the nostrils or mouth (p. 95).
In addition to special breathing techniques, applications of specific Mudras or physical meditative positions or postures was prescribed. The author offered other examples.4
Other similar applications using the same coded Five Dragons symbology included its combination with yoga Mudra (posture) and coordinations of mind and neurology.
The hidden symbolism protecting the alchemy is prevalent throughout:
If the practicer does not know the methods of Five Dragons Upholding the Holy One; or of sucking; pressing; pinching and shutting and of spirit lifting the goat-cart, etc. The immortal seed will not follow the correct path . . . (Ch’en (with Yu) p.140)
4Ibid; p. 94.
The alchemical use of the term Dragon, especially in the Chinese, refers to the Universe generally. Typically herein it applies to ideas of: dynamic vitality; psyche; spirit; essential nature; living spirit, etc. Similar also to Yoga’s prana, Reich’s orgone, etc.
A method which consists of ‘composing’ ones’ head (i.e. putting it in a comfortable position, etc.), curving and reclining the body on either side - like the coiled length of a sleeping dragon, or the curved body of a dog. Bend one arm for a pillow while stretching the other to place a hand on the belly, Straighten one leg out while bending the other. Even the heart is immersed in sleep. The pupils of both eyes should be drawn close to each other for pointed concentration on the great emptiness so that in the condition of utter stillness the vital principle returns automatically to its’ source - under the navel. Breathing continues normally and so is self-regulated; and the vital breath is brought under perfect control. This method of sleeping will BANISH ALL DREAMS.
Cult of Ku Techniques
An alternate method of clipping, under-cutting, or even banishing specific dream mechanisms has also been documented in sorcery, as developed and used by the nefarious Cult of the Ku5. Two initiate-priests, Witch Paterson and Austin Spare, incurred what would otherwise be painted as dark-magic/black-magic, As recounted in, occult author Kenneth Grant’s, Cults of the Shadow (1976):
A secret session of the Cult of the Ku was witnessed by Spare. Spare’s experience is of particular interest, by reason of its close approximation to a form of dream-control into which he was initiated many years earlier by W. Paterson (p. 202).
The black adepts of the Ku Cult worshipped a serpent-goddess who existed in this world through a woman highly dedicated to the cult. During occult ritual she would throw off her animal mask and become possessed. She would “emanate” or resonate psycho-spiritually.6
as multiple forms of the goddess as sentient shadows endowed with all the charms possessed by her human representative. The “shadow-women” impelled by some subtle law of attraction, gravitated to one or the other of the devotee’s who sat in a drowsy condition around
Sexual “congress” with these “shadows” occurred
It was the beginning of … sinister dream control …
5Grant, Kenneth (1976). 0rdo Templi Orientis: Cults of the shadow. Weiser, 244 pp.
The Ku (as in Cult of the Ku) has several meanings in Chinese. In this case it applies to a specific typology of dark sorcery or witchcraft. It also can cover Ku: Harlot of Hell; Succubus. This sorcery deals with inverting normal libido processes/sexuality and using the loose psychosexual energy much like one might use electricity or force of an explosion.
6 Ibid; p.203.
Grant, Crowley, Spare and others practiced vama-marg or left-handed Tantra which
instructs in sorcery.
The mechanics of dream control are in many ways similar to those which effect conscious astral plane projection, etc. My own system of dream control derives from two sources - the formula of eroto-comatose lucidity discovered by Ida Nellidoff and adapted by (Aleister) Crowley to his own sex-magic techniques7
Also A. Spares practice of Sentiment Sigils (p. 203).
Ku member Austin Spare’s, Sentiment Sigils, involved dark sorceries and inverted sexuality:
Sleep would be proceeded by some form of Karezza8 during which a specially chosen Sigil (drawing) symbolizing the desired object is vividly visualized. In this manner the libido is balked of its’ natural fantasies and seeks satisfaction in the dream-world. When the “knack” is acquired the dream will be extremely intense... (p. 203).
The importance of this formula, one which is focused on the potency of thc transference of the Sigil, is in moving it from the wake-world through and into the astral planes, and into various lucid dream realms.
Were one to create and use a Sigil drawing containing elements of self-disintegration, chaos, entropy, or self-replicating “viral forms” which can exist astrally as well as physically they might powerfully effect different dream realms. If Spare’s Cult of Ku, spell-casting can be believed, then it would be possible to literally dissolve or reform lucid or non-lucid dream worlds. The understanding alone that such processes may be real and seem to be used with lucid-dream landscapes should be of considerable curiosity, to lucid-dream investigators.
7Ibid; p. 203.
Crowley developed eroto-comatose lucidity as a sexual meditation to enter the astral and lucid-dream realms through an inverted yoga. This method will allow access to lucid dreams but for shorter duration. The same psychosexual mechanism - displaced libido increases information flow; setting a symmetrical order to what is usually vortex or anima-mind holography.
8Ibid; p. 204.
Karezza occurs in Grant’s book defined as: the retention of semen is a concept of central importance to certain Tantric sects and ideas. The idea being that bindu (the seed) then “breeds astrally - not physically ... and entity is bourne on the astral plane. (Grant p. 204)
Karezzaby J. William Lloydes (1931) continues in title as: Method of Magnetation or The Art of
Connubial Love published by Health Research (1964), 68 pp. This is less auspicious and bent
than Crowley, Spare, et al, Emphasis on resonance meditation from sexual complex-creation’s –
loose libido in need of an owner makes an interesting effect such as IQ-raise spiritual rejuvenator, etc.
Francis Louis Szot
During the last ten years, I have had hundreds of lucid dreams. They are the most exciting, pleasurable and valuable new element that I have discovered during this very eventful past decade. Any individual who had had the opportunity to experience many lucid dreams may also treasure them as I do.
Even though I find all lucid dreams to be exhilarating, there is a special class of dreams that I prize more than others. These are the communal lucid dreams that I share with friends while we are all in the lucid dream state together. I want to provide other lucid dreamers with the techniques that we use to fashion these group experiences. They are very simple and lm sure that many people will want to experiment with them. Some individuals will discover that they have a special knack for using this approach, some will find it unproductive, and some will find a variation more effective for organizing the group dreaming experience. These procedures usually work best in the early morning hours after most of your normal sleep requirements have been filled earlier in the night. The afternoon hours work well only if there have been arrangements made with the other participants. The couple or the group, must be in a receptive state of mind at the same time that everyone wants to attempt the experiment.
All variations of this technique require that the potential participants be in one of the following states of consciousness:
1. the lucid dream state
2. the ordinary dream state
3. a sleeping state that supports dreaming (not excessively tired, drugged, etc.)
4. a deep meditative or pre-sleep state with eyes closed and the body in a
reclining or seated position
The usual starting point is from within the lucid dream state. I suggest that the dream environment be cleared of all distracting objects and/or characters. Simply move away from these possible diversions or will them to disappear. Although not a requirement, this does seem to slightly increase the prospects of success in the venture. Now, in the dream, close your eves. Once again, this is an optional directive, hut since the rest of the instructions involves a very idiosyncratic thought process, this will help to focus the imagination for the task.
The first important step is to create the most desirable dream climate and surroundings for initiating a shared lucid dream. Do this in the usual manner of lucid dreaming fabrication - that is, by projecting your mental images, which then become the reality perceived in the dream. The locale you want to create is a site, near the place where you usually meet your selected ‘target person” during your normal waking life. This may be a living room, an office, a classroom, a park. etc. As augmentation to the details of the “physical’ landscape like furniture, plants, walls, etc.. include the additional thought that, in the nearby accustomed place, the intended person will be there too. Do not try to find your friend immediately. Stay where you are for just a moment. Of course, you can open your eyes intermittently in the dream to check the surroundings, if you desire. If you usually meet someone within a particular room, create the area right outside the door which opens into the room and wait there. If you usually meet out-of-doors, position yourself about 50 yards away and out of the direct sight of the accustomed meeting spot. The critical part of this technique is that all the while, you must be thinking about what it is like to be near the target person, what it feels like to be in their presence. Meditate on that person and visualize every detail of their appearance. Try to recreate the psychic vibrations that you receive when you are with them. Whether or not one is successful depends mainly upon how accurately and how strongly one is able to counterfeit, in the dream, the interpersonal feelings which art exchanged between the two people involved. Potential success hinges upon this, so take your time and get this part right.
Many of these “vibes”, including electromagnetic sensations, exist in a very real, physical, substantial manner. Many are quite ethereal. Some can be recorded and displayed in an analogous manner with the proper type of electronic equipment. We are all familiar with the EEG (electroencephalograph) which has rapidly become a standard diagnostic tool of medicine. It measures some of the many ‘brain waves” that we all continuously propagate throughout our life. In turn, we are bathed in the spectrum of brain wave broadcasts of our fellow humans, There exists a multi-channel symphony of bio-consciousness beckoning to us just below our routine threshold of awareness. In 1988, can anyone still doubt that this is true? At Ohio State University, there is a radio telescope which is used to scan the interstellar depths for alien radio waves. It is part of the international SETI (Search for Extraterrestrial Intelligence) project. If you were to stand on the reflector while the telescope was operating, the natural radio emissions from your body would drive every needle on the monitors right off the scale (Easterhrook, 1988). This is witness to both the sensitivity of the machine, and the reality of bio-broadcasting. The apparatus that we have available to reconstruct these interpersonal impressions is a combination of the creativity of our consciousness, imagination, memories, etc. It has been my experience that this is an extremely faithful and precise instrument for reproducing this “electromagnetic gestalt’.
Once convinced that you have distinctly duplicated the spectrum of physical and emotional components (mentally mimeographed the psychic fingerprint of the relationship) then you can search for the target person in the lucid dream. Depending upon where you have previously positioned yourself in the dream, near your target, you can now open the door, or walk across the field, or turn the street corner, or walk through the threshold and approach the accustomed meeting place. Open your eyes, if they were closed in order to concentrate more easily, and, in the dream, move toward your friend. Of course, all the while, maintain the vivid interpersonal mental image which you have so carefully manufactured. The clearer and more detailed the total picture, the stronger and more persistent is the self-reinforcing feedback loop which develops. If this image falters, the prospect of success disappears; but maintaining this memory is not difficult.
If successful, you can find your friend there in the dream. If the individual is not immediately seen, do not stop looking. They may take a little while to show up. Look in the closet, under the table, in the next room, maybe up in the trees if you are outside. After all, this is a dream, so you can still expect a lot of surprises. Don’t give up if you don’t see who you are looking for right away. Keep the mental image intact and persevere.
Alter a reasonable amount of time spent searching, if you cannot locate the target person, we may assume that the timing is wrong (the target may not even be asleep at the time), or that the psychic picture is somehow incomplete. At this point, go back to the beginning and select another person to aim for and create another composite image.
Now, I must mention that just because you are able to find the intended person in the dream, that does not mean that this individual is really there with you in the lucid dream state. Of course, the other entity in the dream may merely be one of your dream characters. This technique is not fool-proof (sic), and it will not work every time. It is no secret that, in a lucid dream, one is capable of producing life-like reproductions of the human beings that we share our waking time with. The process of generating a psychological mold with the intellect only allows the possibility for real contact to be made through the dimensions of the dream state. No matter what happens, the only way to be certain that you both have participated in a shared lucid dream is to subsequently document this fact with your dream partner upon waking. Only after repeated verifications and familiarity with each other in the lucid dream state, can you become confident of the real nature of what transpires. After the initial exploratory questioning and corroboration with partners, there comes a time where no further validations are required. The concept is accepted, and the technique becomes a fantastic and magical tool,
Before I discuss variations on the method, there are a few more important facts to mention. First, it does not matter how far away from each other the two dreamers are when they attempt to have a lucid dream together. I have verified that people as far away as Florida and California have reliably and repeatedly induced communal lucid dreams. If this trans-continental distance does not pose a barrier, there is every reason to believe that physical separateness has no bearing on the efficacy of this technique. As a conjecture, possibly the contact takes place in the dimensions of this universe that exist in addition to the four dimensional space/time continuum that we are so familiar with, One of the newest cosmological theories to gain a measure of acceptance among physicists throughout the world, superstring theory, claims that there probably are ten dimensions in this universe (Green, 1986). The mathematics of the concept demands this facet of the theory; that there be nine ‘spatial’ dimensions plus the dimension of time. That yields six supplementary dimensions in addition to our mundane and familiar 4-D world. These are dimensions that obviously cannot be accessed from our normal, prosaic state of mind. Maybe it requires an altered state of consciousness, like lucid dreaming, to gain entry to them. I don’t regularly look to physics for encouragement or reasonable explanations regarding poly-dimensional realities which I have already sampled in altered state experiences. But, in this case, superstrings in ten dimensions does sound plausible and useful to me because I have indulged in exploits in more than four dimensions already. Haven’t you?
Secondly, there is no limit to the number of people who can participate in a communal lucid dream. In fact, the more participants, the more stable the dream environment becomes. Unlike the individual who may find their lucid dream ended suddenly and unintentionally, the influence of multiple dreamers typically allows a longer lasting experience and the opportunity to reenter the dream if, for some reason, one happens to lose contact. Also, with more than one dreamer, it becomes easier and more reliable to reach out to bring additional people into the experience, if desired. Two dreaming heads are better than one. Ten are better yet. There is a snowballing effect as each new participant makes the dream environment more magnetic and sturdy.
I am aware of two major variations to the method that I have described so far. Some people do not need to initiate the attempt to make contact while already in the lucid dream state. Constructing the psychic image of the target person may be coupled with methods of inducing a lucid dream, such as Dr. LaBerge’s M.I.L.D. (Mnemonic Induction of Lucid Dreams) routine for instance (LaBerge, 1985). When these are done in tandem, a successful contact may occur instantaneously upon the start of lucidity.
The other variation compresses the two stage approach from within the lucid dream. Instead of positioning yourself somewhere near the spot where you hope to find the target person residing, go directly to the best place to look as soon as the metaphysical-psychological facsimile has been conjured up. Some people will find that this works better for them. It is a matter of determining which feels most comfortable to you and, most importantly, produces easy, consistent, authentic success. Experiment and discover for yourself what works best.
As with most things connected with the manipulation of the lucid dream milieu, once you become aware of what is possible, you can extend the boundaries of your own imagination to match the newly expanded horizons. Then, it is feasible to set your will to the new task and make it happen. Even though group lucid dreaming is not a new concept at all, this may be the first time that the notion has been presented to you for your scrutiny. If you are skeptical, that’s great. I don’t immediately believe everything that I hear either. Until I have either proven it for myself, or heard it from so many other reasonable people that the overwhelming volume of evidence is convincing, I’ll reserve judgement. If the prospect of shared dreams intrigues you, think about it, talk about it, and do it for yourself. Good luck!
Easterbrook, Gregg (1988, August). Are We Alone? The Atlantic, p. 38
Green, Michael B. (1986, September). Superstrings ScientifIc American,p. 48
LaBerge, Stephen (1985). Lucid dreaming.New York: Ballantine.
(EDITORS NOTE: Krisanne Gray is a housewife and mother of two who runs a day care center in Spokane, Washington. Her story, as well as the work of Deborah Armstrong-Hickey [see her talk in the symposium proceedings in this issue], is of theoretical interest to the field of lucid dreaming. Not because of the process she went through in figuring out what is real, this is a familiar one to anyone who has worked on becoming lucid in sleep, but rather because she went through it at such a young age. Due to her youth other mechanisms came into play which adults don’t normally deal with. Mrs. Gray may to be a consciousness savant in the same manner as a very young child who shows early mathematical aptitude.
Before I comment on the potential theoretical significance of this case let me say that 1 have spoken to Mrs. Gray at some length and believe that she is in fact honestly communicating her experiences as accurately as she can. As is often the cast when I stumble upon an individual who evidences unique sleep consciousness (if genuine and uninformed about the area of lucid dreaming); they are amazed to discover that everyone doesn’t dream lucidly all the time. In 13 years of working on lucid dreaming I have only found four individuals (outside of long term meditators) like this. In all cases they were ignorant of lucid dreaming work, amazed that their style wasn’t the norm, and with intensive interviewing I was convinced that they fully understood what I meant and that they were honest, sincere and perhaps humbler. In fact, in a recent chance encounter with an Alberta businessman, who is virtually always conscious in sleep and has never meditated, he became quite uncomfortable with my interest in his sleep experiences. I hope yet to be able to convince him to come into the sleep laboratory.
Theoretically such consciousness savants offer us a clue as to the role lucid dreaming may play in the development of thinking is pointed out at the 1988 meeting of the Association for the Study of Dreams by Alan Moffitt of Carleton University. He presented a new theory of the function of dreams which dramatically goes beyond a mere “information processing” perspective. Because REM sleep is the stage of sleep in which dreams almost always occur, Moffitt argued, that “dreaming is the motor for human development.” That is, it is the part of our biological system which forces us to move from one level of intellectual capacity to the next. When we work with dreams, then, we are working with the cutting edge of our own intellectual development. Moffitt pointed to lucid REM dreams, rather than ordinary non-lucid REM dreams, as particularly clear examples of the driving mechanisms pushing us from stage to stage in our intellectual development. “Lucidity enables the further development of intentional action within the dream state,” explained Moffitt. “In effect, one can develop a new form of competence, a type of skill not available during the waking state.” With these considerations in mind Lucidity Letter offers you the story of Krisanne Gray.)
In the Beginning
Remembering back as young as six or seven months of age, I was afraid to sleep - that was an, as yet, undefined state in the face of which I felt helpless with fear. Although I cannot recall even the smallest detail of those early nightmares. I do remember the fear they instilled in me.
It was in response to those nightmares that I developed the “skill” of lucid dreaming. I found rocking (first on all four, then from side to side) soon became a means to gain the control I needed. The rhythm helped me to focus thought. Thoughts which I quickly found had considerable power. Also, I knew that I had to control the fear I felt. This rocking motion helped me to focus on other things. I remember early nightmares were more on a feeling level than a visual one.
At age two I remember the nightmares becoming more visual. I tried to find a way to tell if this state was “real” or not, if this was a dream because I was experiencing feelings of hurt and pain. I remember being very angry when people would say, “Oh, it’s just a dream it won’t hurt you!” I became more aware that my feelings had a strong influence on my nightmares but not as much of an impact while awake.
I continued to try to define reality. I found that it helped to have a set sleep schedule as it told me that this was either awake time or nightmare time. By the age of four, I felt it was important to be able to tell myself when I knew I was in a dream. Knowing I had to define “real” more clearly. I found that dreams had no rules and no boundaries while reality had many. Thus I began to define reality more by its limitations. So in order to find out what real was I had to discover what it was not!
At about five years of age, I developed my first ‘control” - a term I gave to the cue giving me conscious awareness in a subconscious state. The mechanics were simple. I would define the state I was in. At this point I would use the control of the state to stop an obvious nightmare. Then I shook my head, hard and fast, and I would awaken immediately.
These control methods developed as the ways of testing the state developed. If I could leap tall buildings in a single bound, I was dreaming. Dreams seemed to be easier to define, and my control seemed to work every time. Or did it?
At about the age of eight or nine, I had my most challenging nightmares It seemed that my mind was intent on this lesson of wits. As I learned about my various states of mind through my mind’s deceptions, I grew in my control of my conscious and subconscious thoughts.
The following nightmare is a composite of memories that typify my dreams of that period:
I wake up. It’s morning. I can hear my mom calling me from downstairs. I stretch and yawn. I sit up in bed and look outside - a beautiful day, blue skies, and lots of birds singing. I slip my legs over the side of the bed and feel the cold, hardwood floor under my feel. Suddenly, a clawed hand grasps one foot and then the other. I fall to my knees on the floor, screaming in terror! I realize this can’t be real! I quickly use my control action and wake instantly in my bed. Still shaking, I slowly peer under my bed. Nothing is there, and I sigh with relief. I hear mom again calling me for school. She knocks on my door and tells me I’m going to be late. I quickly jump out of bed and dress. I run downstairs to find my sister munching down breakfast, and I join her. As I’m pouring my cereal, I see my sister laughing. Her bowl is filled with live snails! She’s crunching down another spoonful. I realize she wouldn’t do this (not live ones anyway!) and know I’m dreaming. I shake my head, longer this time, to awaken. Again, I hear mom calling. Once again I check under the bed. I try to go through a wall but hit it instead. This must be real! Again I dress and run downstairs. I check the cereal situation out carefully. Everything seems normal, so off to school my sister and I go loaded down with books. School seems to reassure me. I couldn’t dream this long! Classes end, and I race home. I am immediately stopped by a locked door. My sister runs past me with her girlfriend and lets me know she’ll be at her friend’s house. I pound on the front door, thinking my mom is asleep. The door flies open to reveal the face of an old woman. I ask as I push past her who she is. By now I know something is very wrong. Nothing inside is the same. The TV is gone. There is a big clock in the corner that wasn’t there before. I ask where my mother is. The old woman replies this is her house and has been for the last ten years. I run out of the house and turn to look at it. I realize this is not real, it’s a nightmare! I shake my head, and again, awaken to my mom calling me.
This time I knew I was awake. You can see why I have spent a great deal of time developing this nightmare control. Once I realized that I was the one who wrote, acted, and reacted within this realm, I was able to control the outcome. I soon changed nightmares and then learned to rewrite them.
Feast or Famine
As an adult I have been able to channel this ability to deal with personal concerns. At one time I was faced with a serious dilemma - how to lose 25 unwanted pounds on a 52” frame which was gained when I quit smoking. After careful analysis, I decided my regimen would include a new diet, a new craft to occupy my hands by day, and lucid dreaming at night.
Knowing that my main enemy was those unwanted, however much-enjoyed calories, made the answer clear. I had to satisfy my appetite while eliminating the unpleasant side effects: calories, convenience, cost. I knew only one place where this and more was easily obtainable- a place where I could eat an unlimited variety of foods, under any conditions, within any surroundings I chose. This place found only within my imagination has only the boundaries I impose. This clearly has its advantages. My theory was based on the idea that if I could satisfy my mind’s appetite, then perhaps my body, too, would be content. So I set up trial dreams.
I can no longer remember most of these specific dreams; however, the technique was always the same. First, I make plain my intention both outwardly and inwardly. I then begin to “program” the night dreams. A few times during the evening I imagine a favorite restaurant, a favorite food. I try to focus on only one place or food. Then, just before I fall asleep, I again focus my energy on that idea. I detail my imaginary description, including smell, taste, and texture.
Once the technique of reaching a lucid dream state has been mastered, dream control enabled me to choose a few dinner guests to join me or included the choice of the finest clothes. Then I fell asleep.
I found myself sitting at a huge crudely built wooden table. I am rubbing elbows with a huge hulk of a man to my left, to my right a dainty wisp of a girl dressed like a fairy princess. I step outside myself for a moment and find I am dressed in a beautiful gown of soft ice-blue, covered in lace. I am very pleased to find myself so well-heeled. I am completely aware that I am dreaming. This gives me a wonderful feeling of complete control. This alone has a positive effect on my mood both asleep and awake. I look around at the faces of the medieval royalty dining with unrestrained enthusiasm upon what appears to be roast pork and roast turkey. The smells fill my nose with flavors. Formal eating habits aside, I, too, reach across the table to tear a drumstick savagely from what is left of the turkey. So, with all the flavor and texture of food eaten while awake, I indulge myself for what seems like hours. I remember being distracted by the eating habits of my dinner partners. Conversation seemed limited to lip-smacking and content groans of satisfaction. I felt right at home as I run a day care facility. I was even beginning to feel too full!
When I awakened, it took me a few minutes to realize I wouldn’t need that bicarbonate after all. I felt very full. In fact, for several hours after my night’s feasting, I felt very content. Also I discovered an additional aid in looking forward to the next night’s meal. I could put off that tempting treat until I could afford the calories, expense, and time.
Understand, however, that it takes many years of practice to reach this lucid dream state on demand. Even though I have practiced for years, I can’t always reach a specific dream place every time. I find that my odds of ‘waking up” where I want to in a dream are about 1 in 3. However, almost every night I enter a dream and turn it into a lucid one. So I could change my dream to accomplish the goal.
There is a difficulty in this, however, dreaming a particular thought is not as difficult as keeping in focus my intended goal. It seems the problems and concerns of waking life have importance while dreaming. There are subtle differences in values and not all concern moral beliefs (to my knowledge). Teaching yourself to focus is the most effective way to gain control. With that control an entire world becomes yours for the taking and helps you to achieve daytime goals as well. This works, and has worked, many times for me. As of now, my “diet” dreams still help me to maintain the weight I chose, just as it helped me lose those unwanted pounds many years ago.
Sleep is a very welcome time of day for me. I can go anywhere, do anything, be anyone I choose. I enjoy lucid dreams almost every night, and still find myself amazed at the possibilities available to me.
Book Review by Stanley Krippner
This engaging book is part of the American University Studies series. As such, it attempts to present a summary of sciences current understanding of the physical world, and to point out that humankind’s questioning across the ages has had a continuity, especially concerning the problem of paradox and reality. The author, a professor of information theory at Louisiana State University, finds these same questions articulated in the Rig Veda, the Upanishads, and in Greek literature. He also observes at least two types of answers: the atomists’ belief that all knowledge can be reduced to a set of concepts and particles, and the intuitionists’ belief that reduction is impossible. The intuitionists hold that our understanding of the universe reflects the nature of our minds; hence the best approach is one that seeks ways to describe complex systems behavior.
Kak identifies two basic assumptions -- causality and determinism -- that have helped scientists discover order in nature. But some scientists take the position that, if carried too far, these assumptions can undercut the attempts to study human consciousness and volition. Another potential conflict is between analytic (i.e., logical, mathematical) and synthetic (i.e., observational, empirical) knowledge. Kak works through these paradoxes, taking the position that a ‘science of consciousness” can assist the resolution of these purported contradictions.
Kak emphasizes the importance of falsifiability in science. A theory should be expressed in a converse as well as positive manner; as a result, it should be possible to falsify the theory. If this requirement were not insisted upon, there would be no way to evaluate a theory’s worth or validity. Kak then presents his notion of the “world-image” -- the embodiment of the experience of reality in a culture. These world-images are difficult to falsify, but may determine the direction that science takes in a given society.
Kak cites some elements of the Western world-image common to Judaism, Christianity, Islam, and Marxism. They are: time is uniform and absolute; space is absolute; humankind has a unique and a central position in the world; human beings alone have “minds.” On the other hand, the Eastern world-image sees time and space as relative; humankind is not assigned a central position, and lower animals also have “minds.” It might be added that the American Indian world-image was in basic agreement with the Eastern image. Joseph Campbell would have used the term “cultural myth” to describe these world-images, observing that understanding the nature of physical reality is a common task of cultural myths throughout the world.
Kak sketches the basic findings of contemporary physics regarding space and time, pointing out puzzles and paradoxes especially when discussing relativity theory and quantum mechanics. He then moves to astronomy, paying special attention to such puzzling phenomena as black holes and the red shift. He is fond of bringing up paradoxes (e.g.. the wave and particle theories of light), then telling the reader how the paradox was resolved.
When he deals with biology, he observes serious problems for those trying to apply physics to a study of life forms. How does one reconcile the stability of biological structures with the increase of the complexity and organization of living organisms? Which came first in the origin of genetic information -- the proteins or the nucleic acids?
Kak sees the phenomenon of sell-awareness as one of the most baffling puzzles of science. Computers lack self-awareness, at least at this point in time, so can be of limited assistance in studying this enigma. Kak suggests that mathematics, language and information theory can play a role in this investigation, and cites some remarkable insights for Gargya, Shakatayana and Panini, three ancient Indian phi1osophers who debated the origins and rules of grammar and word-meanings
From the beginning to the end of the book, Kak has come full circle. Although Western science has learned a great deal about the workings of the physical universe, many of the mysteries of human consciousness are as baffling as they were during ancient times. In 153 pages, the author has given his readers a concise picture of some of what is known about physical reality, and has provided them with questions that will leave them both wiser and more modest.
Celia Green Solicits Help
I have been commissioned to write a book on lucid dreams and I should be most grateful to hear from any readers of Lucidity Letter who have had particularly interesting lucid dreams, of which they could send accounts which they would be prepared to have quoted. The projected book is one for the general reader, so interesting illustrations are of more importance than statistical considerations
I should be grateful if anyone sending accounts of their experiences could also kindly state their age and position in life (both now and at the time of the experience), so that they may be briefly characterized for the interest of the reader. Please also indicate whether or not you wish your name to be concealed.
Topics which are of particular interest for the purposes of this book include the following:
examples and methods of nightmare control by means of lucidity; lucid dreams and control of nightmares in young children;
problem solving, healing, learning skills;
apparent ESP, telepathy or precognition in lucid dreams;
dreams which have had definite beneficial effects - whether psychological, physical, or other;
methods of induction of lucid dreams, and their effect on dream content.
Institute of Psychophysical Research
118 Banbury Road
Oxford, 0X2 611)
ON1ROS Role in 1987 European Meeting
In your “Letter from the Editor” prefacing the last issue of Lucidity Letter, I was unpleasantly surprised to read that the symposium on Lucid Dream Research which took place at Frankfurt last October (1987), and whose proceedings are published in your review, was organized by Mr. Christian Stephan
Although it is true that Mr. Stephan participated in the organization of this symposium, it seems totally inexact and unjust to pass over in silence the important role of the association ONIROS - which I have the honor of presiding - not only concerning the very conception and launching of this event, but also for the work devoted to its accomplishment, and in particular the invitation of Alan Worsley, Christian Bouchet and Oliver Clerc as speakers
President of ONIROS; Vice-President of European Association for the Study of Dreams
News and Notes
Akhier, A. (1988). Prolucid dreaming: A content analysis approach to dreams. Journal of Mental imagery, 12(1). 1-70.
Blackmore. S. (1988). A theory of lucid dreams and OBEs. In J.I. Gackenbach & S. LaBerge (Eds.). Conscious mind, sleeping brain (pp.373-388).New York: Plenum.
Bogzaran, F. (1988). Lucidity and meeting the unknown. Dream Network Bulletin, 7(4), 16.
Dentan, R.K. (1988). Butterflies and hug hunters: Reality and dreams, dreams and reality Psychiatric Journal of the University of Ottawa, 13(2), 51-59.
Dentan, R.K. (1988). Lucidity, sex and horror in Senoi Dreamwork. In J.I. Gackenbach & S. LaBerge (Eds.), Conscious mind, sleeping brain (pp. 3 7-66).New York: Plenum.
Fellows, P. (1988). Working with the lucid dream. In chapter 12, Clinical applications of lucid dreaming. In J.I. Gackenbach & S. LaBerge (Eds.), Conscious mind, sleeping brain (pp.301-304). New York: Plenum.
Gackenbach, J.I. & LaBerge, S. (Eds.) (1988). Conscious mind, sleeping brain.New York:
Gackenbach, J.I. (1988). Personality differences between individuals varying in lucid dreaming frequency. Journal of Communication Therapy, 4, 49-64.
Gackenbach, J.I. (1988). Psychological content of lucid versus non-lucid dreams. In J.I. Gackenbach & S. LaBerge (Eds.), Conscious mind, sleeping brain (pp. 181-220). New York: Plenum.
Garfield, P. (1988). Creative lucid dreams. In chapter 12, Clinical applications of lucid dreaming, In J.l. Gackenbach & S. LaBerge (Eds.), Conscious mind, sleeping brain (pp. 297-300). New York: Plenum.
Gillespie, G. (1988). Without a Guru: An account of my lucid dreaming. In J.I. Gackenhach & S. LaBerge (Eds.), Conscious mind, sleeping brain (pp. 343-352). New York: Plenum.
Gillespie. G. (1988). Lucid dreams in Tibetan Buddhism. In J.I. Gackenbach & S. LaBerge (Eds.), Conscious mind, sleeping brain (pp.27-36).New York: Plenum.
Gillespie, G. (1988). When does lucid dreaming become transpersonal experience? Psychiatric Journal of the University of Ottawa, 13(2), 107-110.
Gregory, J. (1988). Lucidity: Where realities merge. Dream Network Bulletin, 7(4), 6-8.
Gregory, J. (1988). The cutting edge of lucidity. Dream Network Bulletin, 7(6), 8-9,17, 20
Halliday, G. (1988). Lucid dreaming: Using nightmares and sleep-wake confusion. In chapter 12. Clinical applications of lucid dreaming, in J. I. Gackenbach & S. LaBerge (Eds.). Conscious mind, sleeping brain (pp.305-308).New York: Plenum.
Hickey, D.A. (1988). The validation of lucid dreams in school age children. Sleep Research, 17, 114.
Hunt, H.T. & Ogilvie, R.D. (1988). Lucid dreams in their natural series: Phenomenological and psychophysiological findings in relation to meditative states. In J.I. Gackenbach & S. LaBerge (Eds.), Conscious mind, sleeping brain (pp.389-418). New York: Plenum.
Irwin, H.J. (1988). Out-of-the-body experiences and dream lucidity: Empirical perspectives. In J.I. Gackenbach & S. LaBerge (Eds.), Conscious mind, sleeping brain (pp.35.3-372). New York: Plenum.
LaBerge, S. & Gackcnbach, J.I. (1988). Introduction. In J.I. Gackenbach & S. LaBerge (Eds.), Conscious mind, sleeping brain (pp.1-10).New York: Plenum.
LaBerge, S. (1988). Lucid dreaming in western literature. In J.I. Gackenbach & S. LaBerge (Eds.), Conscious mind, sleeping brain (pp.11-26). New York: Plenum.
LaBerge, S. (1988). The psychophysiology of lucid dreaming. In J.I. Gackenbach & S. LaBerge (Eds.), Conscious mind, sleeping brain (pp .135-154).New York: Plenum.
LaBerge, S., Levitan, L., Brylowski, A., & Dement, W.C. (1988). Out-of-body experiences occurring in REM sleep. Sleep Research, 17, 115.
LaBerge, S., Levitan, L., Rich, R. & Dement, W.C. (1988). Induction of lucid dreaming by light stimulation during REM sleep. Sleep Research, 17, 104.
Magallon, L. (1988). Dream trek: Dream characters. Dream Network Bulletin, 7(4),
Magallon, L. (1988). Lucidity reports from Jayne Gackenbach & Stephen LaBerge. Dream Network Bulletin, 7(4), 3-5.
Malamud, J.R. (1988). Learning to become fully lucid: A program for inner growth. In chapter 12, Clinical applications of lucid dreaming. In J.I. Gackenbach & S. LaBerge (Eds.), Conscious mind, sleeping brain (pp. 309-320). New York: Plenum.
Moffitt, A., Hoffmann, R., Mullington, J., Purcell, S., Pigeau, R., & Wells, R. (1988). Dream psychology: Operating in the dark. In J.I. Gackenbach & S. LaBerge (Eds.), Conscious mind, sleeping brain (pp. 429-440). New York: Plenum
Price, R.F. & Cohen, D. (1988). Lucid dream induction: An empirical evaluation. In J.I.
Gackenbach & S. LaBerge (Eds.), Conscious mind, sleeping brain (pp. 105-134). New York: Plenum.
Schatzman, M., Worsley, A. & Fenwick, p. (1988). Correspondence during lucid dreams between dreamed and actual events. In J.I. Gackenbach & S. LaBerge (Eds.), Conscious mind, sleeping brain (pp. 155-180).New York: Plenum.
Schwartz, W. & Godwyn, M. (1988). Action and representation in ordinary and lucid dreams. In J.I. Gackenbach & S. LaBerge (Eds.), Conscious mind, sleeping brain (pp. 419-428). New York: Plenum
Snyder, T.J. & Gackenhach, J.I. (1988). Individual differences associated with lucid dreaming. In J.I. Gackenbach & S. LaBerge (Eds.), Conscious mind, sleeping brain (pp. 221-262). New York: Plenum.
Tart, C. (1988). From spontaneous event to lucidity: A review of attempts to consciously control nocturnal dreaming. In J.I. Gackenbach & S. LaBerge (Eds.), Conscious mind, sleeping brain (pp. 67-104). New York: Plenum.
Tholey, P. (1988). A model for lucidity training as a means of self-healing and psychological growth. In J.I. Gackenbach & S. LaBerge (Eds.). Conscious mind, sleeping brain (pp.263-290).New York: Plenum.
Trowbridge, B. (1988). Wizardreams: Whose dream is this? Dream Network Bulletin, 7(4), 10-11, 8.
Worsley, A. (1988). Personal experiences in lucid dreaming. In J.I. Gackenbach & S. LaBerge (Eds.), Conscious mind, sleeping brain (pp. 321-342). New York: Plenum.
Contributors to Lucidity Association
Ruth M. Sacksteder
Lucidity Association Research Award Call for Proposals
The Lucidity Association is pleased to announce that it will be making a $100 research award. This will be awarded for expenses associated with carrying out a research project on lucid dreaming. This project is broadly defined as quantitatively or qualitatively based. Submit research proposals in duplicate with a budget estimate to the Chair of the Lucidity Association, Harry Hunt, Ph.D., Department of Psychology, Brock University, St. Catharines, Ontario, Canada. All proposals must be received by April 1, 1989 with the recipient to be announced in the June. 1989 issue of Lucidity Letter. A brief summary of the results of the research will appear in a future issue of Lucidity Letter.
1989 Lucidity Association Lucid Dreaming Symposium
The 1989 Lucid Dreaming Symposium will again be held in conjunction with the annual meeting of the Association for the Study of Dreams. The meeting is to be at the University of London, London, England July 25-29, 1989. Thus far three speakers have agreed to make one hour presentations at the symposium, Stephen Laberge. Paul Tholey and Susan Blackmore. ASD conference registration information can be obtained from ASD, P.O. Box 1600, Vienna, VA 22180
A Review of the Lucid Dream Literature Available
A review of the lucid dream literature of about 400 citations is available from Drs. C.M. den Blanken and F. Maissan (Eds.) by sending dutch guilders 13,= on Postgiro 504211 in the name of Dr. C.M. den Blanken, Utrecht, The Netherlands. The review will be sent to the address indicated.